As monsoons strike Goa and the rest of the country, the coastal state experiences a splurge of festivals. In one such festival – Cucumber Feast – the state invites its loyal visitors to be a part of its fascinating tradition.
Striking and fascinating festivals dot the Indian calendar all year round. From festivals for snakes where people feed them milk and worship (Naag Panchami) to camel fair in Pushkar Rajasthan where over 50,000 camels can be sighted at once, India has all sorts of celebration. And one of the tiniest states of India, synonymous with celebrations and energy, Goa is nowhere behind when it comes to peculiar festivals.
While the Goa Carnival (in February) is a colourful spectacle, the state also has other smaller events that weave a beautiful story. The Touxeachem Fest, which translates to ‘Cucumber Feast’, is celebrated on July 29 in the state with religious fervour and age old rituals at St Anne’s or Santana Church in Telaulim. This feast that is celebrated on the last Sunday of July every year as Grandparents Day and as Touxeachem Fest in the Goan village of Telaulim, attracts thousands of devotes from across the state. It is not just grandparents but devotees of all ages and walks of life who come to seek blessings of the old miraculous statue and relic of St Anne that is housed in the 435-year-old church.
The cucumber tradition
The main aspect of this feast is the unusual tradition of offering cucumbers to St Anne in return for a favour. Besides the large number of devotees, this festival is popular with the newly-weds who throng the church in large numbers. According to tradition, childless couples offer cucumbers and utter the phrase Senhora, tomai pepino, dai me menino, which means ‘Lady, take this cucumber and give me a child’. Likewise, bachelors seeking a wife in marriage offer spoons and spinsters who seek a husband offer lentils like urad dal. Many newly wedded brides offer their chuddo (bangles) to St Anne. The couples come here to seek the blessings of St Anne, who herself was blessed with a child – Mother Mary.
A large number of stalls are put up to sell cucumbers and a variety of Goan sweets such as khaje. Besides others who come with offerings, there are also many who come to express their gratitude and thanksgiving prayers. This feast is not only witnessed by the Catholic community, but also a lot of Hindu devotees come to pay their respects to St Anne.