Touxeachem Feast – The Cucumber Festival in Goa

posted in: Asia, Culture, Goa, Heritage, India | 84

With my recent trip to Goa, I was fortunate to have experienced a unique festival – the Touxeachem Feast. “Touxeachem” means “Cucumber” in Konkani and hence, its popular name – the Cucumber Festival. This is an annual celebration held at Santana Church in the town of Talaulim, where childless couples visit St.Anne to request her for a child in exchange for a cucumber.

Venue for the Touxeachem Feast - Santana Church in Talaulim, Goa.
Venue for the Touxeachem Feast – Santana Church in Talaulim, Goa.

So strong is this belief, that you have tons of people – across different sects and religions, queuing up to make a wish. The entire fest was a cultural experience -showcasing the other side of Goa – the “Goa beyond beaches“. Before I share my experience, a bit of history behind this unique festival.

Legend behind the Touxeachem Feast

St. Anne at Santana Church, Goa
St. Anne at Santana Church, Goa

The legend behind this fest goes back to the Grandparents of Jesus Christ – St. Anne and St. Joachim. It is said that they were childless for almost 20 years. Despite being well-off and happily married, they had to face the ridicule of their town as they could not conceive a child. It reached a point where the priest of their temple refused to accept St.Joachim’s offerings – calling his childless state as a sign of “divine displeasure”. After many prayers, St.Joachim got a dream that he would be blessed with a child who would be in service of God. True enough, at the age of 40, St.Anne gave birth to Mary – a child who she left later in the temple, to serve God.

Over years, St. Anne’s is regarded as a patroness for childless couples, expecting mothers, grandchildren and grandparents. It is to her, that the Touxeachem feast is dedicated. Interestingly, the day on which it is celebrated – 31st July, is also, celebrated as the Grandparents day.

Rituals at the Touxeachem Feast

The Touxeachem feast is quite a secular affair – with people from different sects and religions attending it. As I understand, they visit primarily for one of these three reasons –

  • To wish for a child
  • To wish for a spouse
  • To wish for a happy marriage.

Based on the wish, different offerings are made to St.Anne.

  • Cucumber – for a child and happy marriage
  • Bangles – For a Girl child
  • Chuddo or the Newly weds’ Bangle set – For a Happy married Life
  • Metal or Wooden Spoon – Offered by bachelors wishing to marry
  • Lentils or Urad Dal – Offered by the Spinsters in search of a husband

The reason for this unusual choice of offering was quite a funny one. As I discovered, the Portuguese word for the offering and the wish rhymed with each other and hence, worked well as a prayer. 🙂 Choices based on a rhyme meter –  interesting, huh?

Touxeachem Feast
Touxeachem Feast

The small prayer essentially goes as – Lady, Take this “Offering”, give me “x”. The words in quotes being the specific offering and wish that the devotees have. For example, with a cucumber they normally say “Senhora, tomai pepino, dai me menino“. This literally translates to  “Lady, take this cucumber, give me a child“. The devotees lay their offering with flowers at the feet of St. Anne’s while reciting this prayer.

Having learnt about these unusual rituals, I was all set to experience this devotion and culture for myself.

Highlights of my experience

Queue of Devotees at the Touxeachem Feast
Queue of Devotees at the Touxeachem Feast

Touxeachem feast was a lovely excuse to discover a beautiful heritage church. I was a little torn about what I wanted to do first – explore the church or experience the feast. I guess, I gave into the latter and started with the feast. That however, does not mean that I did not explore the church. I did and will be sharing that with you in my next post. For now, let’s start with the huge queue that was in front of the church. Families with kids, carrying their offerings patiently awaited their turn while the cucumber and flower vendors sold their ware along the entrance.

Cucumber vendors at the Touxeachem Feast
Cucumber vendors at the Touxeachem Feast

When talking to the guide and a few people there, I gathered that the cucumbers sold there were the first harvest of the season. Given that, I thought that it was quite befitting that the first harvest was offered to the Lord.

Inside the Santana Church

Devotees offering cucumbers at the Touxeachem feast
Devotees offering cucumbers at the Touxeachem feast

Once you enter the church, you can see the devotees laying their offering at the feet of St.Anne. Most of them I found, offered cucumbers. Generally, two cucumbers were offered, one which was kept and the other returned back to the devotee.

Waiting for their turn to Thank St. Anne for this bundle of joy
Waiting for their turn to Thank St. Anne for this bundle of joy

Many of them did not just come for a wish, but had, returned with their family to Thank St. Anne’s for having fulfilled their earlier wish. It was quite heartening to see newly weds and parents with infants thanking the Lord for making them happy. It re-emphasized one aspect of life that we must practice everyday – “Thanking”.

Touxeachem Mass at Santana Church
Touxeachem Mass at Santana Church

Touxeachem Festival - Mass at Santana ChurchTouxeachem Festival – Mass at Santana Church

The church itself, gave me a very positive vibe. Decorated for the festival, it was very calming to just stand and observe the serene atmosphere of the Mass that was going on.

The Procession of Touxeachem Feast

Procession at Touxeachem Feast, Goa
Procession at Touxeachem Feast, Goa

The mass ended with a slow procession of the church goers and its fraternity, where the priest carried a flag around the church premises. While a band played to kept the procession going, I kept an ear out for the musical rings of the church bells. I personally love listening to the sound of these bells – they always remind me of the movie “Sound of Music” and make the whole atmosphere magical.

The little fair of Touxeachem Feast

Stalls at the Touxeachem Feast
Stalls at the Touxeachem Feast

A special fair with stalls was set up in the church premises. Despite the pouring rains, you had people enjoying the special snacks & sweet, the little artifacts and the toy stalls. Such was the festive fervor that even the rains could not dampen it. I was tempted to buy these colorful balloons – only to let my rational side take over and abandon the desire. Sometimes I wonder, why I am so rational.  😉

Happy Balloons at Touxeachem Feast
Happy Balloons at Touxeachem Feast

While the feast continued, I moved on to explore the Santana church – a story that I will share in my next post. For now, I will leave you here to marvel at this festival of intense hope and devotion – with a faith that seems unshakable. For me, it was a lovely way to experience Goa beyond the beaches. Leaving you with a short video of the entire feast. Take a look and let me know of what you think of the Touxeachem Feast.

Getting there:

  • Goa is well-connected with its own airport. It has a good connectivity by rail and road to the major cities of India.
  • To reach Talaulim, you need to hire a cab or a vehicle. It is a 45-minute drive from Panjim.

Travel Tips

  • Keep an eye out for the festival on the official Goa Tourism site. It is generally, celebrated on 31st July every year.
  • One can buy flowers and cucumbers at the Santana Church itself. The same is quite reasonably priced.
  • Remember to tour the church after you are done with the festival. It is quite an experience.
  • The festival takes place during the monsoon season. Though there were temporary shelters made for the queues to keep safe from the rain, it is always a good idea to gear up with an umbrella or a raincoat if you are headed here for the fest.

Here is a Pin for you as a reminder to visit this fest next year 

Touxeachem Feast

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84 Responses

  1. Joanna

    I have to say, the traditions in India can be very funny. A cucumber festival? I find it funny because you exchange a cucumber for the wish of having a child to come true. And a cucumber can represent something else too, in this instance. 🙂

  2. Alberto Calvo

    Now that’s an unusual festival! 🙂
    Your photos are great, I’d love to go to India soon, it looks like such a diverse and wonderful country!

  3. Dash the Map

    I have never heard of the Cucumber Festival. It’s look like a very cultural festival.

  4. A Busy Bees Life

    i read about this only recently as I had not known of its existence. I find this to be a wonderful festival and a great way to learn about culture and tradition.

  5. Nikita

    That’s wonderful. I will try to visit this Festival. And I love Goa. And everything about it.

  6. Kate O'Malley

    This is interesting! What a fascinating festival! And yeah, making a wish based on rhyming words is a bit unusual but if it has worked and is still working for the devotees, who are we to judge, right?

    • Ami

      Not many know Shounak. Most of us tend to miss out on this culturally vibrant part of Goa. 🙂 Try it out the next time

  7. Sona Sethi

    Didnt hear about this festival before even after visiting Goa so many times. Thank you for sharing. This is due for my next most awaited vacation in Goa! 🙂

  8. Subhadrika Sen

    Never heard of cucumber festivals. i love cucumber and Would love to visit the place as well. So should plan a trip when I can see the best of both 🙂

    • Ami

      Thanks Subhadrika. A different and fun experience indeed and since you love cucumbers, an added advantage 😀

  9. The Solivagant Soul (@Thesolivsoul)

    I’ll be a bit naughty and silly and I will tell you that a cucumber festival would have a completely different meaning in Europe hehehe. It is always amazing to see how different our cultures are. Also, are all the cucumbers there that colour? It’s the first time I see them! Also, it was very interesting to see a church like that. Very nice post!

    • Ami

      Thank you. Naughty indeed :). This is just a different variant of the cucumbers. I think the diversity in cultures is what makes this world colorful. 🙂 Stay tuned to know more about the church. My next post.

  10. Inka

    WOW, all the different traditions and festivals around the world who can really keep up. When I first read Cucumbers I was a little confused. But in a way why not, different country different traditions.

  11. Tom

    I must admit, the name “a cucumber festival” is not the first thing i would head for when travelling. Yet the photos make me realize it’s so much more. Neat name.

    • Ami

      Yep. It is more than just a festival. A cultural experience is what I would term it as. Thanks for stopping by.

  12. vishvarsha

    Local customs and festivals are so interesting! And Goa has so many local festivals!!! Nice post Amy 🙂

  13. Star Lengas

    This seems like such a cool and positive festival. Goa isn’t normally a country you hear of but I would definitely love to visit to observe this festival and sight see.

    • Ami

      Goa is quite a destination for people who love sun and sand. This part of Goa is not that well explored. Nonetheless it is quite a fun place.

  14. Judson L Moore

    I was six months in India but Goa was not one of the places I got to. I always said it would just be a reason why I had to go back! Thanks for this post.. it also makes me think I need to go back and experience Goa!

    • Ami

      Thanks Rashmi and Chalukya. It was the first time I found out about it too and am glad I managed to get there. 🙂

  15. wanderingwagarschristina

    What a fascinating festival. I would like to visit Goa during this time. Perhaps I will also make an offering to St. Anne as thanks for my wonderful children.

  16. Stella the Travelerette

    This sounds so interesting! I’ve never thought of a cucumber being an offering for a child and happy marriage, but I suppose anything can be an offering if done in the right spirit. And I agree it’s so important to practice thankfulness.

    • Ami

      Thanks Stella. Thankfulness everyday is a norm that we must practice and that is one amazing thing that I found at this festival.

  17. Anamika Ojha

    I’ve been to Goa many times when I was in India but never heard about this festival Looks like so much fun! Thanks for sharing the information about it!

  18. Blair Villanueva

    This is an interesting festival! Asking for blessings and good health from someone we believe in, as long as we have strong faith, everything we be come true. 🙂

  19. Veronica

    It is unusual, yet interesting, to see some Christian traditions mixed with such a different festival. Yet, it shows that our world is united when it comes to faith. I would love to have an opportunity to visit this festival.

    • Ami

      Thanks Veronica. I think the blend of cultures is what makes the world colorful. Indeed a positive thing.

  20. Tamz

    This is a very unique festival. A well written post where you showed a different side of Goa. Well done

  21. Tae

    How cool 🙂 I love that people from all points of life are attracted to this festival. Personally I’d offer a cucumber for a happy marriage 😀 need to go to Goa!

  22. polly674

    That’s an interesting celebration!! While reading I was actually thinking that I should try with a cucumber offer 😉

  23. klipdrifters

    These cucumbers look so different to the ones we have here in South Afirca,
    The festival sounds spectacular.

    • Ami

      Thanks. These ones are just a different variety. We have tons more here, am sure some are similar to what you get there.

  24. 2traveldads

    This is so strange to me since it’s so outside of my world. Despite all my knowledge of the Catholic Church I’ve never heard of this festival or practice.

  25. Vyjay Rao

    This is a festival I have not heard of. India never ceases to surprise, there is always something or the other waiting to be discovered around the corner.

    • Ami

      Totally agree Vyjay. India is full of surprises and every now and then I love what I discover. 😀