Pejechem Fest: Simple food linked to Siridao's festival

Siridao village usually becomes alive on the second Sunday of Easter, filled with pilgrims pouring in from all over, either to ask for favours or to thank the Blessed Virgin Mary for favours granted, and then have pez (kanji)

| APRIL 09, 2021, 11:43 PM IST

FR APOLLO CARDOZO S J

In Siridao village in Tiswadi, the church is dedicated to Our Lady of Rosary, called Nossa Senhora do Rosario Igreja em Siridao in Portuguese. It has two chapels under its jurisdiction. One is dedicated to Souls, Santa Almas and Our Lady of Rosary, and known to the people as Anjachem kopel, Chapel of Angels.

The second is the chapel of Jesus of Nazareth on the hillock of Nazareth vaddo where the feast of the Annunciation of Our Lady of Nazareth is celebrated on the Sunday after Easter, commonly known as the feast of Jesu Nazareth, and people venerate the suffering statue of Christ. 

The famous 'Pejechem Fest' is celebrated at this chapel on the occasion of the feast.

Siridao village usually becomes alive on the second Sunday of Easter, filled with pilgrims pouring in from all over, either to ask for favours or to thank the Blessed Virgin Mary for favours granted, and then have pz (kanji).

In the past, pilgrims would come for the feast precisely to make angvonn (vows) or to express their gratitude for the favours received. “Lok angvonn kortat, Saiba mhaka borem kor, hanv tujea paiam kodde yevun pez jevtam” (People make vows: Lord, please cure me. I will come to your feet and eat kanji).

In olden days, villagers from distant places like Sanvordem and Sanguem would come sometimes sailing in voddeanim and pat’marinim (canoes and catamarans), since road travel was not so common.

Others used to come sailing along the Zuari river, tether their boats behind the chapel, and climb up the hill, while others would travel on foot the previous day. The hospitable village folks would provide them accommodation and food though they were strangers to them.

After the Feast Mass, the statue of Our Lady of Annunciation was taken in a procession around the village. Then, people would stand in queues before the chapel for the pez which was served to them in a malti (an earthen container), purchased by each pilgrim. Pickle too was served as an appetizer. 

Previously, pez was also served at other places at Siridao like Ogdale, but now it is only served below the chapel.

As per the traditions, pez was cooked from ukkde tandull (boiled rice) in seven big moddkeo (copper pots) by married women – also called Soyasini – in Mol’lancho Mattov (a palm enclosure). It cannot be cooked by widows.

It is said the seven vessels were related to the story of seven sisters in Sanskrit. It was then served in traditional Goan bowls called Maltuli or Kholeachem Aidonn. 

Pez is served first at the Xim’ before serving people – a custom signifying the serving for the dead souls. It is then served to the pilgrims free of cost. One can have as much pez as desired.

Though the feast of the Annunciation of Our Lady of Nazareth is a Catholic feast, the onus of serving Pez is on the Dempo family, who were the owners of Siridao village where previously, the Portuguese noblemen and thousands of locals would reside.

As per the folklore, the bhattkar (landlord) serves pez to atone for the Pensanvanchem Bhatt, which roughly means property bequeathed to a person on an assurance that the person will offer masses for the soul of the donor.

Pensão means ‘periodical payment.’ In the past, individual priests or some landlords, who had no heirs, would donate their properties to the church after laying conditions such as offering a number of masses for the family souls or for wandering souls, or ask oil lamps to be lit in the chapel/churches. If the conditions were not fulfilled, the souls would then protest, and even bring harm to those owning the properties.

(The writer is former director of Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendr at Porvorim)



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