Old Goa, 13 kms from the capital Panjim is where almost every Goan will be rushing to during this celebrations (i.e nine days of novena and the feast).
‘Goencho saib‘ (patron of Goa ) as the saint is called was a Spanish missionary who served in Goa. The Protector of Goa as the people believe him to be, has his relics preserved in a silver casket in the Basilica of bom Jesus.
The event sees a large number of people from all faiths, far and near coming to pay their homage to their saint. Some staying over throughout these ten days celebration.
It is something that really baffles me, the amount of pilgrims who travel on feet from far to the church as a sign of devotion. People from other states as well, especially the pilgrims from Azra, Maharashtra come on a walking pilgrimage every year.
This celebration of faith is done with a number of Eucharistic celebrations (mass) through the day. The roads adjoining to the church are filled with stalls and vendors selling all sorts of items ranging from religious to household to fancy clothing and accessories. You can get it all here for cheap price if you are really good at bargaining.
Just to let a local secret out- its best to go out shopping here after the feast day is over while the stalls are still there for a few extra days as its way less crowded and also more chances of getting the same items at a much lower rate(especially on the last day). Also if you are travelling here during the feast or novena days its best to use your 2 wheelers as it will save a lot of time and fuel as well. You are bound to see a huge crowd during these days as it is one among the biggest celebrations in Goa,uniting all faiths.
So on this note I wish everyone a very happy feast of St. Francis.