One of the traditions followed by Goan Catholics is the celebration of the ladainha, which was brought to Goa by the Portuguese. It is an age old tradition and continues even today, albeit with some modifications. The ladainha are a kind of folk oratorio, consisting of singing and recitation of hymns and prayers.
The word litania meant prayer and applied to the liturgical functions in which the church and the Catholic people proposed to address to God an instant suplica. The invocations with a final suplica like: kyrie eleison, misere nobis, ora pronobis. At present, the Church has approved only the ladainhas of Saints, Our Lady, the Holy Name of Jesus, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Saint Joseph and the church services for the dying.
In Goa, there are ladainhas throughout the year and may be an annual or occasional event. The former may coincide with a wedding anniversary or birthday of the celebrant or his relatives. Or it may form part of a devotion to a particular saint such as St Ana, St Anthony etc and is held preferably on the day of the feast of the saint. It is customary for Catholic homes to have a cross installed in front of their homes, in which case, the occupants celebrate the annual ladainha. A ladainha is also held at the various crosses doting the state. In this case, the annual ladainha is held by the people of the ward. These are predominant during the month of May, when feasts of the crosses are celebrated in the villages.
May is the ideal month for these celebrations because students are on vacation and Goan emigrants come on holiday. It is pertinent to note that May was the favourite month for weddings some decades ago. A ladainha is held during birthdays, anniversaries, housewarmings, weddings, christenings or for special intentions.
Traditionally, the ladainha was held for nine days and on the feast day and used to be in Latin and Greek, but now it is in Konkani. However; the invocations and prayers were always in Konkani. No ladainha in Goa is complete without a hymn in praise of the patron saint of Goa, St Francis Xavier.
An elderly person starts the ladainha with the Sign of the Cross and intones the first line of the antiphon in Latin Deus in adjutorum meum intende which is followed by the chorus. The music is usually provided by the Church choirmaster (mestre) and he is accompanied by his choir or some men who are trained to sing the ladainha. The ladainha is followed by hymns and prayers. The latter duly prefaced with a brief ejaculation covering the different intentions for which the prayers are being offered, which includes the interests of family concerned, special aspirations, well being of a member of the family, as well as that of the village and villagers and the souls of the departed. Intentions which cannot be specifically mentioned are covered by a generic intention that the people concerned may obtain all that they aspire for. If the ladainha is held due to a wedding or christening, the first few versus of Te Deum are also sung.
At the end of the ladainha, boiled or baked gram is served to the participating devotees. Nowadays, an assortment of snacks and soft drinks are also served. In the past, alcohol was also served to the men folk. Very few women attended the ladainha in the olden days.
By Maria de Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues
May 27, 2007
Posted By : Maria de Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues, Goa on 26/06/2007