Navelim’s church was first built by the Jesuits in the 1590s; the present, Portuguese-style whitewashed structure was constructed later on when the older building became too small. The reconstruction was apparently financed by a local merchant “Barreto” who was saved from bankruptcy through the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary.
According to legend, this church was built in mud similar to the other churches in Salcete between 1594 and 1598. The builders were Jesuits and it was financed by the villagers. The first parish priest of Navelim Church was a French Jesuit Fr. John Sena. (Mitras Lusitanas no Oriente)
As time passed, the church became small for the growing population. Later on, it was reconstructed with laterite stones on a larger scale by a rich Goan merchant, whose name is not given.
This merchant, according to legend, while passing through the main road running in front of the above church, received the message that he would lose a substantial amount of money in his business. As soon as he received this message, he entered the church and started praying to Our Lady of Rosary, requesting her to relieve him from this catastrophe. If his prayers were answered, he promised to reconstruct the original church, on a larger scale. In the event he not only recovered what he had lost, but realised double the amount. He then financed the entire reconstruction of the church and also renewed the statue of our Lady of Rosary. Information on further reconstruction of Navelim church, if any, are not known.
The celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Rosary begins every third Wednesday in November. This devotion of Our Lady comprises an extensive celebration which begins with traditional processions and novenas.
Each year the family selected to celebrate the feast paints the church on the outside fifteen days before the feast. The inside of the church is also beautifully decorated and the outside is covered with fairy lights. Most of the houses and streets in the village are lit up with colourful lights during the celebrations.
Every four years, the statue of Our Lady of Rosary is brought down from the altar and a procession takes Her to Holy Rosary School where mass is held in the playground. During this one day consecration of Our Lady, children from the school act out scenes from the Bible and the playground is filled with crowds of villagers.
Every November a candlelight procession carries a statue of Our Lady towards the church; the celebration of the feast continues for several days.
According to legend, in earliest times, this fair consisted mainly of three or four sheds and lasted only for a day, because there was superstition that on the same night of the feast day, there was a gathering of devils in the area in front of the church.
Dr. Francisco Salvador Gomes, father of Dr. Francisco Luís Gomes, who was the administrator of Salcete, encouraged some of the owners of the sheds to extend the fair to three days. This was done, and fair gained in prominence so that today it is the most popular fair in Goa (Ultramor of 12-11-1869 no. 554 & Ultramor of 10-11-1900 year 42).
Today the fair comprises stalls selling toys, food and clothing. There are booths for games as well as a Fun Fair with merry-go-rounds and Ferris wheels as well as other enjoyable rides.
As of the 2001 India census, Navelim had a population of 11,014. Males constituted 52% of the population and females 48%. Navelim had an average literacy rate of 74%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy was 78%, and female literacy was 70%. In Navelim, 12% of the population was under 6 years of age.
Rosary College of Commerce and Arts is one of the most famous colleges in Goa. Beside’s arts and commerce it also offers other courses like BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration), BCA (Bachelor of Computer Applications), M.Com etc. Rosary Higher Secondary, Rosary School and Perpetual Succour Convent are also located in that area.
Navelim is rapidly expanding to become one of Margão’s fastest growing suburban areas. Other landmarks include the railway station and the infamous Sky Bus. It has the Annual Festas de Leques.
Navelim is one of the largest villages in Goa. Some of the names of Navelim wards are: Aquem, Belem, Buttica, Coldem, Colmoroda, Danddo, Dialgona, Dongorim, Firgulem, Fradilem, Mandopa, Modi, Ratvaddo, Rawanfond, Sinquetim, Sirvodem, Telaulim.
Navelim has a football ground. It was constructed with the financial support of the people of Navelim abroad and living in Navelim.
The Our Lady Of Enfermous Sports Club Football ground situated at Sinquetim is one of the best ground in Goa. Finals of Imperial Cup and other tournaments have been played on this ground.
Navelim is famous for its political, academic and spiritual talents. Some of the famous descendants of Navelim are:
Francisco Luís Gomes – statesman and linguist represented Goa in the Portuguese Parliament in Lisbon.
Valerian Cardinal Gracias (originally from Sinquetim), Archbishop of Bombay was the first Indian Prince of the Catholic Church.