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Friday, January 06, 2017


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It was the Yuletide of 2004 that my wife and I had gone to visit our relatives in Cansaulim, in the Salcete District of Goa, to witness the grand feast of the Three Kings and fulfill a lifelong dream to attend this traditional feast.

The three villages that take a major part in celebrating this feast are Cansaulim, Cuelim and Arossim, at the Chapel on the Cuelim hillock. A child from each of these three villages is chosen representing as a ‘King’ dressed symbolically in regal attire on horseback.

After a short prayer and ceremony at the respective three different local churches, the ‘Kings’ from the family of the main celebrants start on the long trek on horseback, followed by other folks on foot from each village and the surrounding areas through villages and fields in a procession to the accompaniment of a brass band playing along the way. The end of the journey is near, the mount is in sight, finally ending on reaching the chapel on the hill.

The unity and the camaraderie that exists between the folks of these three villages is evident in the fact that this great feast is organized so well, with such timing, pomp and fervour.  

When they arrive at the hill, the 'Magi' meet in front of the chapel, culminating with a con-celebrated Solemn High Mass and other traditional festivities. 

The Adoration of the Magi - Feast of the Three Kings
Cansaulim, Salcete, Goa. India

In addition to the traditional feast celebrated at Cansaulim, the Parishes of Reis Magos and Chandor also celebrate this feast in Goa on a grand scale. It is commonly known as the feast of the Three Kings, Epiphany of the Lord, The Magi or the Three Wise Men of the East – Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar – each one carrying symbolic gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Not connected to this grand feast in any way, there is a legend, however, that there was a ‘Fourth Wise Man’, whose name was Artaban. It is not my intention to publicize to give credit to this story. It is perhaps an imaginative creation in a short novel or long short story by Henry van Dyke. This story has no mention in the Holy Bible. 

It tells about a "fourth" wise man (accepting the tradition that the Magi numbered three), a priest of the Magi named Artaban, one of the Medes from Persia. Like the other Magi, he sees signs in the heavens proclaiming that a King had been born.

Artaban was a Persian King whose study of the planets and the stars led him to predict the birth of the King of kings. It is said that he sold everything he possessed and purchased ‘a large sapphire blue as a fragment of the night sky, a flawless ruby redder than a ray of sunrise, and a lustrous pearl as pure as the peak of a snow mountain at twilight’ which he intended to carry as tribute to this King of kings. He then set out for Jerusalem, where he had arranged to meet up with the three other Wise Men, or Magi, to find this newborn King.