The person of Francis Xavier is revered in Goa with great devotion. To the pilgrim who transports herself / himself bag and bed-roll and rice and stove to the corridors of the Basilica of Bom Jesus for the Novena, Xavier is saint, intercessor, protector and fellow pilgrim. The streams of Goans who bow their heads before the sacred relics pray for the intercession of Goencho Saib, one can say, as one Goan to another! He is theirs, as they are his — together on a pilgrimage to the Sacred.
The bond finds voice in art in Goa. Dr. Carmo D’Souza’s play Inner Duel makes an interesting contribution to the body of popular art on the theme of Francis Xavier. Weaving historical detail with allegory, Dr. Carmo brings the impassioned pilgrim closer still to the common viewer / reader: the struggle to find a satisfying purpose, the agony of assigning the ego its proper place, the encounter with many faces of success and defeat – some of these are strangers to the person on the street. The play subsumes the struggles of character and viewer under the same weather-beaten umbrella. The pilgrimage reveals us all as fellow seekers. With an eye on stagecraft and audience involvement, the playwright brings Francis Xavier frontstage.
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