Pedro Daniel Oliveira

On February 2, 1559, the reconquest of Daman in India by the Portuguese Viceroy D. Constantino de Bragança, marked the fate of the settlement in religious terms. The Feast of Our Lady of Candelaria has been celebrated since then, bringing together Catholics and non-Catholics in procession from the Cathedral to the City Hall. In Macau, the festivity is continuously marked since 1992.

Last Friday, the Damanese community of Macau celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Candelaria, in commemoration of the reconquest of Daman by the Portuguese from the Moors, on February 2, 1559.

St Lawrence’s Church has kept the tradition of blessing the candles shortly before the beginning of the procession. Like past years, it took place in the church’s square, after which Mass was celebrated. Dinner was served in the church’s hall, where traditional Damanese gastronomy was offered to the faithful, alongside customary Damanese songs.

“This celebration marked the reconquest of Daman, by [the Portuguese State of India Vice-Roy] D. Constantino de Bragança, who took with him the statue of Our Lady of Candelaria, ordering in thanksgiving for the victory a solemn Mass, the Saint being proclaimed patroness of the settlement,” Oscar Noruega told O CLARIM.

“The statue was later on placed in the main hall of the Municipality of Daman, where the feast is still celebrated. It gathers in procession all the officials, regardless of their religion, with the people of Daman, starting from the Cathedral. They carry candles lit in hand, while sing hymns in praise of Our Lady,” added Mr Noruega. He’s one of the organize members for the celebration in Macau, which has been continuously marked since 1992.

“The community of Daman is very small,” he said, counting “we are about eight or ten families who make a great effort to maintain our tradition. We joined Portuguese, Macanese and even Chinese. Usually there are about 120 or 140 participants,” he said.

Remembering, “we live far away, and Our Lady of Candelaria is the patroness of Daman,” he points out to “the great meaning of this celebration, because although centuries have gone since the reconquest of Daman, Portugal is still in our hearts.” Furthermore, he stressed, “The Portuguese way still remains in Goa, where I also lived, and especially in Daman.” Both places are former Portuguese colonies in India. In Macau the celebration began in St Anthony’s Church, and was moved after to St Lawrence’s Church.

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