The 1st of May marks the Feast of the Holy Cross, celebrated throughout the maze of little paths making up Matharpacady. Estimated to be 300 years old, though left with a handful of lovely split-level cottages, the East Indian hamlet nestled in midtown Mazagaon brims with heart and hope.
This is the 148th year since the inception of this cross in 1875. Dedicated to St Roque, patron protector from infectious disease and epidemic, the Holy Cross Oratory was added when the 1896 plague miraculously claimed not a single life in this gaothan. In a throwback to their community farming roots, parishioners of St Anne’s, Rosary Church and adjoined zones offer the Novena to St Roque, starting from April 22, for strong health and a bumper monsoon.
Earlier observed on May 3, the Cross Feast moved to the May 1 holiday for greater participation. “The cross stands on land given by my grandmother, Mrs Buthello,” Frumentius Ambosta said. His father John had carved it. President of the Matharpacady Fishermen’s Association, he supervised a carpentry workshop executing fine woodwork for nautical enterprises ranging from motor launches to the Maharaja of Coorg’s yacht.
It must be Matharpacady’s best night, I’d thought, visiting two Christmas Eves ago. But that evening this village did not sparkle with stars or twinkly bulbs. Residents were donating to COVID relief the money they could save from not lighting up in festivity.
Builders wreak ruthless demolition here, yet Matharpacady soldiers on. Believing in goodness. Reciting rosaries for safety. Seeking comfort in maxims like “Plague and pestilence make the shield of faith stronger.”