Its a day of fast and abstinence for lakhs of catholics in Goa and the rest of the country today as the world observes Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross and his death at Calvary.
While Good Friday marks the death of Christ, it is not a day for mourning as many may be believed to think. On the contrary it is a day of triumph in tragedy. It is a day to be born again by letting our old selves die and begin a new birth. It is a rising in dying to ourselves and our bad behaviors.
The period of Lent which began on ash Wednesday lasting for 40 days of penance and abstinence ends with the day of Easter when Jesus Christ rises again on the third day. Good Friday is therefore basically a reflection on the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ.
On the occasion of Good Friday, the prayer service is held only in the parish churches and begins late in the afternoon and is constituted of three parts. Namely the Liturgy of the word _ where the word of God is spoken. The Veneration of the cross and The Holy communion.
In the first part, there are the two readings from the Old testament followed by the Gospel reading of St John often sung in the churches with different priests or lay people singing out the different narrations of the Bible reading. In the second part of the service, the crucifix which is kept covered with a blue cloth is unveiled in parts with intermittent prayers after each unveiling part of the crucifix. Finally in the last part of the service is the Holy communion which is distributed among the faithful.
In Goa the service finally ends with the purple curtain which covers the view behind the altar being drawn apart to enable a full view of a life-size statue of Jesus Christ nailed to the cross. Some parishioners dressed in traditional Jewish costumes climb the ladders to the top of the cross and lower the statue of Christ after unfastening it and then place it in a casket . This is a Portuguese custom followed in Goa. The congregation then moves in an orderly procession with the members of the confraternity taking up the casket on their shoulders.
In the Se Cathedral at Old Goa there is the traditional 'xempddeanchem pursanv" today, which is a unique ceremony , a procession of tails called as 'capas magnas" in Portuguese. This practice is believed to have started after the cathedral chapter was established on February 4 1557. for the occasion, there is a solemnity maintained and instead of cheerful bells the procession starts to the rattling of wooden clappers which were used in ancient times.