Touxeachem Festival, Cucumber Festival Goa

Goa is dotted with several churches, and you can see that for yourself as you land at Dabolim airport. The white steeples popping out from the vast green spread of coconut tree tops makes a beautiful frame. You will find a church or chapel in almost every village and town of Goa and they have a unique story to tell. In this post I bring to you the Touxeachem (meaning cucumber in Konkini language) Fest which I witnessed during my recent visit to Goa.

Cucumber Festival as I Witnessed

Touxeachem Festival or the Cucumber Festival is celebrated at St. Anne’s Church located in Santana district of Old Goa. It is a state festival of Goa. The prayers and processions hadn’t started when we reached the church, meaning we were on time. We walked into a decked up bright and colorful atmosphere, all prepared for the festivities. The big ground right in front of the church was lined with stalls. The whole area was decorated and was teeming with vendors, devotees and some curious onlookers like me.

Cucumber sale at Cucumber Festival GoaCucumber festival Goa Festive mood

There was a separate queue of devotees to offer cucumbers which was almost 200 to 300m long. The church was filled to its brim with devotees and they were spilling out too. Good seating arrangements were made for them and there was continuous video display of proceedings inside. Prayers were chanted to the holy tune of hymns. After the holy mass got over there was a procession which started from the church went around the ground finally back into the church.

Cucumber festival Goa market

I saw some of the couples after offering cucumbers bringing their babies to the priests there for their blessings. We got access to interiors of the church and the priest spoke to us explaining us the significance of the festival and answered our questions. I have a couple of short videos here which will give a good idea of the happenings at the event. And yes we got to munch on cucumbers too. At the end of the day I felt it is the cucumber vendors who made the most out of the festival. Rains hardly seemed to dampen their spirits. ‘It is a good start of the season’ one of them told me.

History of St. Anne’s Church, Goa

The Church of St. Anne (picture by Naizal Dias, Google) was constructed by Monsignor Francisco de Rego in 17th century. It took more than 100 years to complete the construction spanning from 1577 to 1695. The completion was under Rev. Fr. Antonio Francisco da Cunha. In Baroque architecture style, the design of the facade and the interiors is an excellent example of Jesuit architecture in Goa. It is an overwhelming reminder of Portuguese India. The main altar was consecrated to St. Anne.

The Church of St Anne follows the Indian architecture amalgamated with Western traditions. Notice the 5×5 pilaster similar to the Indian tradition of a stambh in front of temples. They modified the proportions of the pilasters according to the native flavor.

St-Anne-church-talaulim

Cucumber festival Church

Pilaster similar to stambhs in Hindu temples.

#Legend1. It is believed by locals that during construction of the church, an elderly villager by the name of Bartholomeu Marchon, had a vision of an old lady donning a hat with a staff in hand walking down the neighboring hill and claiming that the Church under construction was her home, and that it was her intent to reside there.

Cucumber festival Goa St. Anne's Church interiorsCucumber festival Goa prayers

#Legend2 Around the same time a Brahmin lady claimed that a similar old lady appeared in her dreams too and held her hand to raise her from her sick state. The old lady said her name was Anne and wanted a residence in the village.

Cucumber festival Goa St. Anne

In the transept of the church, directed towards the altar is a picture of St. Anne with a staff in hand and wearing a hat as she was seen in the visions.

Faith and Celebrations of Cucumber Festival

The actual date of cucumber festival, the Feast of St. Anne, is July 26th. It is celebrated on 26th if it is a Sunday, if not then on the Sunday following it. So this year it was celebrated on 31st July. This is one of those rare festivals of India where people participate irrespective of their religion. Hindus too come here to offer their prayers. I saw many Hindu families there waiting patiently for their turn to offer their prayers and cucumbers at Her feet!

Hindu Family at Cucumber Festival Goa

Hindu Family at Cucumber Festival Goa

The general faith is that childless couples offer their prayers here for a child and it is believed that their wishes are fulfilled sooner or later. St Anne, who herself was blessed with a child – Mother Mary – after forty years of barren life is worshiped here. Devotees offer cucumber at the feet of idol of St. Anne. Childless couples seek a child and so do the newly married couples. I also read that the cucumber is offered in the hope of a baby boy, while those who desire a girl child offer bangles. I did not see any bangles there though. Two cucumbers are offered, one is left at Her feet and the other is taken back after touching it to the statue.

It is not limited to couples alone. Unmarried men offer spoons and unmarried girls too make offerings usually of lentils like black gram (urad dal). When their wishes are fulfilled they return back the next year and offer cucumbers as gratitude and thanksgiving!

In Portuguese language the prayers are like this:

Senhora, tomai pepino, dai me menino’, (which means ‘lady, take this cucumber and give me a child’).
Senhora, tomai colher, dai me mulher‘ (Take this spoon, give me a wife).
Senhora, tomai urido, dai me marido‘ (Take this ‘lentil’, give me a husband).

(So, now you know the words for cucumber, spoon and lentils in Portuguese language, don’t you?!) But why cucumber? We were curious. It is just that cucumber is the season’s first harvest.

#trivia: The last Sunday of July is celebrated as grandparents’ day. (there is some connection there, St. Anne is Jesus’ grand mother)

Travel Photo Thursday

 

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52 Responses

  1. Cloudia says:

    Fascinating! Sharing

  2. Beautiful post and photos. Thanks for sharing.

  3. MP UPPAL says:

    Great pictures with info about festivals!

  4. I visited Goa 4 times and heard a lot about this Festival but never witnessed the same, Indrani.. A nice Post!

  5. Sri Kri says:

    Interesting to know about this cucumber festival.
    When we saw the title we thought that the festival where varieties of cucumber are displayed with different cucumber figures.
    Thanks a lot for sharing.:)

    Cheers,
    Sriram & Krithiga

  6. I love the arbitrary nature of the cucumber – I was heading somethere else completely…;)

  7. Very informative post! Never hear about such types of festivals! Thanks for sharing!

  8. awesome read, the history, the festival, the pics are nice. the idea came into my mind after reading about this festival is….next year i will sell cucumber there….i think i will gain a huge profit….hw is the idea Di?

  9. Ami says:

    Very well captured Indrani.

  10. dNambiar says:

    This was news to me.
    It was so nice to learn about the cucumber festival and its significance to the local people. Thank you Indrani for bringing this story to us. 🙂

  11. Interesting festival, this cucumber festivals… one very chraming thing about Goa are the churches, it was so nice reading about one here.

  12. I learned something new from this. Never knew about the cucumber festival as well as the faith, traditions, and legends. I like the little history lesson as an added touch.

  13. Lovely photos and what an amazing festival! I would have never guessed there was a festival dedicated to cucumbers, to be honest.

  14. It’s good to read abt a festival still unknown to me. Nice presentation

  15. Blair Villanueva says:

    This is the first time I’ve heard about cucumber festival! Do they also have competition for the biggest cucumber each year?

  16. Sapna says:

    I love cucumber a lot. Didnt know there is such festival too.. Interesting

  17. Evanne says:

    So interesting! I was wondering why cucumbers the whole time 😉

  18. Beautiful festival presented by you & equally lovely pictures!

  19. Arohii says:

    I had no idea that there was anything like a Cucumber Festival. The church looks Glorious. what a Lovely way to thank as well. Thanks to you, we now know so much about a festival little known to many people like me. 🙂 xx

  20. Very interesting! Have heard of the cashew festival that happens there but cucumber – never heard of it!

  21. David says:

    Nice. Especially the translation

  22. Jen Morrow says:

    What a unique festival, with various origin legends! India seems to have so many different festivals, there is always one around the corner.

  23. Lance says:

    Interesting. And awesome photos by the way!:) thanks for highlighting this festival.

  24. Fascinating! This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a Cucumber Festival and it’s in India of all places. This shows that India really has a diverse culture. The legends surrounding the church is also interesting!

  25. Maniparna Sengupta Majumder says:

    Never thought such a festival could exist. Great information here, Indrani. Will remember pepino as sosha … thanks for the translations, much needed… 🙂

  26. Amazing! Interesting!

  27. I had heard about it while I was there but never got to witness it. Great post 🙂

  28. Goa and its festivals! They are fun colourful and so different from the rest of India. Most of them are so loacl and earthy too. Loved the post Indrani 🙂

  29. Paola says:

    What a particular and funny festival! I visited that church when staying in Goa!!!

  30. Veronica says:

    I have never heard of this festival before and I love the idea behind it!
    I am not sure if I missed the date in your post, but when does it take place?

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      Yes Veronica I did mention the date in the post.
      It is on July 26th or the Sunday after it.

  31. Andra says:

    I had never heard of this festival, very interesting. And I love the fact that you also inserted local legends – I love them!

  32. Sona Sethi says:

    I have been to Goa many times but have never heard about the cucumber festival. This sounds very interesting and would love to experience it next time.

  33. Ana says:

    I went to Goa a few years ago when I was in India and just loved it! Though never heard about this festival. It looks fun!

  34. Komang Ayu says:

    Great choice visit to Goa. in the photo there are many people there , I think every day is always visited by people. but perhaps now is the most special.

  35. I love to eat cucumber. I had no idea theres a cucumber festival as well. This was an interesting read indeed.

  36. We have never heard about such a festival celebrated in Goa but it was great to know such information. The church looks majestic and popular.

  37. I’ve never heard of the Cucumber Festival! It sounds fun–especially for the cucumber vendors. My mother was Irish Catholic though and she told me that people in Ireland say prayers to St. Anne to send them a man, so it’s a little similar.

  38. budget jan says:

    I wondered about the significance of the cucumber so thanks for answering that. What happens to all the offered cucumbers?

  39. Nisha says:

    Quite an interesting story! 🙂

    Had never heard of it. Would like to attend it sometime.

    Absence of bangles in offerings also tell us about the choices we make or prefer. Not a good sign.

  40. Roberta says:

    The history of the church is so interesting! I love legends and seeing as this church has many and are actually portrayed is amazing!

  41. Sriparna says:

    Great to learn about this completely new thing… cucumber festival sounds so interesting… Thank You for sharing this with us!

  42. suanlee says:

    There is such a thing as a cucumber festival? This is so cool and sound very interesting. Looks like such a big turn out and lots of fun 🙂

  43. Christina says:

    I hadn’t heard of the Cucumber Festival in Goa before. I love visiting towns when a festival is going on as the entire town is in a very happy mood. Interesting to read as well that although it occurs on St. Anne’s day, the festival transcends religion and townspeople participate no matter what their religion.

  44. Sowjanya says:

    Hi Indrani,

    Very well narrated! India is full of surprises. Surprised to hear about a festival of cucumbers. Quite interesting!

  45. Liz says:

    Fascinating post. We have something similar in the Philippines – the Obando fertility rites which is also for childless couples to pray to patron saints to give them children.

  46. ladyfi says:

    What a beautiful church and lovely festival.

  47. Interesting festival and the grandparent’s connection too makes sense. It is amusing to note the festivals are mostly connected to harvest season in India…truly an agrarian community.

  48. I also wondered “why cucumber?” but if it is the first crop of the year, it must be a joyous sight to the growers.
    Many of our neighbours grow cucumbers, but in greenhouses because spring temperatures aren’t always balmy, and sudden changes would be bad for the crop.
    Our dog, however, is happy to take the cucumbers the neighbours give us. She loves to eat them, and they are not fattening. She still gets fat, though, because she can no longer walk very far.
    I enjoyed seeing many familiar names in these comments. I am just coming back to blogging, and I’m very slow.

  49. What a great post. The architecture and history of the church is very interesting!

  50. Rakesh says:

    very interesting Post for festival of Goa. Thanks for share

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