Eons of lifetime could pass by with you just sitting in silence, enjoying the beauty, such is the ability of Raia, to keep you spellbound. Raia lies 7 km from Margao, 35 km from Panjim, 17 km from the airport and thus far from urbanization. Filled with tree’s, houses and fields, Raia possesses a bauty of its own, though the best time to visit would be during the monsoons when everything is so lush.
It is said that it was the original site of the temple of goddess Kamakshi as it was destroyed by the captain of Rachol and so it was smuggled across the river by a potter who has since been given the principle right to burn the first lamp at the temple of Kamakshi at Shiroda.
Like everything else, Raia too has a past, a history. The first church built by the Portuguese was dedicated to our lady of snows. This church also known as the Raia church is famous for a festival known as ‘konsachem fest’ which is celebrated with great pomp after the sheaves (konsa) of rice harvest. It is attended by people of all faith and a large number of devotees from all over the state. The church has a sickle which is said to have been specially sent across Goa, by the Pope in the Portuguese times. The local parish priest cuts the first sheaves of the rice harvest from the nearby fields. He also gives blessings for a rich harvest for future seasons and the sheaves are then distributed among the devotees present. These are then used by the devotees to prepare some rice dish at home. The sheaves are also sent to the governor of Goa and the archbishop of Goa as a symbol of love, good wishes and prosperity. On this day as per tradition, a football tournament is held which is attended by clubs surrounding the area. After the high mass, people take home a sheave to put it on their altaror some put it in their vehicle for as a symbol of protection.
Raia has the distinction of being the first village in Salcette to be Christianised, when its populace was converted en masse to Christianity in 1560. The parish of raia was founded in 1699 to cater to the spiritual needs of the increasing number of converts outside the fort of Rachol and it was dedicated to the same patroness- our lady of snows. The church and parochial residence were thoroughly renovated in 2003. The fort is built by laterite stones and offers a great scenic surrounding. The fort was controlled by many Indian rulers until the Portuguese expanded their empire, the fort fell from favor and was finally abandoned. Now nothing remains of it today except the stone archway that leads to the seminary. And to think for twenty years I passed under it, going in and out of this historically important place without as much as a thought put into it.
History can always make you hungry, so Nostalgia, one of the best restaurants of the state, would be a good suggestion. The restaurant serves classic goan and Portuguese- goan dishes.
A simple village where everyone knows the other and compulsorily exchange greetings as they sit outside their porch watching the kids play. The place is full of innocence and away from the claws of urbanization. So intent the people of Raia are that they refuse a bridge being built from Raia to Shiroda. Amazing people and place.. what’s not to like?