Several churches across Goa are heading for a massive restoration, a job undertaken once in 50-60 years.
The lifespan of interiors and antiquities in these churches built during Portuguese colonial rule in Goa, has entered a phase where they require huge upkeep.
The restoration of wooden altars and gold-plated antiquities is mandated every 50-60 years, according to experts.
The church authorities are employing restoration experts who are working on these major projects.
“A protective coat needs to be given for altars while the interior design has several gold plate carvings which wither with time,” Sadashiv Parab, working as a modeller with Goa State Museum, said.
Four generations of Parabs have been working tirelessly for restoring paintings, antiquities and wooden altars in churches.
Goa has 180-odd churches and chapels spread across almost every corner of the state, which has 27 % Catholic population.
As per information available from Goa State Museum, each of the religious orders has its own style of architecture and motif.
“A typical church square generally has one or more piazza (square) cross, a Cristo Rei (Christ the King) monument and a grotto to our Lady. The square is often bounded by fourteen crosses of the via sacra (way of the cross),” a senior official said.
Goan churches belonging to 16th century era have undergone restoration several times, but post-liberation (1961), this is for the first time such an extensive exercise has been taken up.
Altars are cleaned, dusted and given protective coating so that they are not spoilt.
Mr Parab, who is trained by International Conservators of Rome, said that most of the churches require renovation now as they have lived for half a century after the last restoration.
Fr Mousinho de Ataide from Goa’s first Church, built in 1514, conceded that the restoration is a concern for parishioners and priests across the state.
Fr Ataide is a priest in Church of St John de Evangelist at Neura village near here, which is the first known Church to be built during Portuguese rule.
“The upkeep and restoration is a concern for the parishioners as these Manueline styles of architecture needs proper care. They are vast,” he said.
The parishioners collect money for restoration and up-gradation in every church while Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been maintaining the Churches at Old Goa World Heritage Monument complex, he added.
The state government does not have a scheme for restoration of churches, he said, adding that the concern is more for churches where number of parishioners are very less.
Radha Bhave, Director, Goa State Museum, said that they have started documenting various churches with their background, so that there will be proper record about their history and existence.