Most of Goa's Hindus are theists and generally observe family customs and religious ceremonies. The life of the Hindu centers round customary rituals and ceremonies or sacrament (samskaras). Perhaps the prominent of these customary rituals relate to: Birth, thread-girding, marriage, pregnancy and death.
It is considered a privilege of the newly married wife to go her parents' house for her first confinement and expenses are borne by her parents. The first ritual in an infant's life takes place on the night of the 6th day when a feast is organized: it is believed that the Goddess of Fate comes to the child and writes its fate on its forehead on that day. The naming ceremony or 'Barse' is on the 12th day if a girl or the 13th day if a boy. The first hair-cutting ceremony is known as the 'Chaula'. However, in the case of the Brahmins, this ritual is combined with the 'Upanayana', (thread-girding), ceremony.
The death ceremonies among Hindus irrespective of caste are almost the same. The dead are invariably cremated but dead children under 8 years of age who are buried. All members of the household take purificatory baths on the 10th day after death; there are other ceremonies on the 11th., 12th and 13th day after death the last of which after a 'shraddha' is performed in the name of the dead, relatives and friends are invited for a meal. Generally speaking the Hindu Goan is a religious person who is keen on observing his religious duties especially in the case of the orthodox Brahmin families. Like in other Parts of India especially in the south astrologers are consulted before taking up any important work, marriage alliances etc.
In the case of the Christians,-their religious rites are governed by the Canon and Liturgical Laws of the Roman Catholic Church on a worldwide basis. In Goa, the administrative powers are vested in the Apostolic Administrator of Goa who has his headquarters in Panaji. Under him is the Vicar General who, in turn, is assisted by priests who look after parish churches and chapels. The Apostolic administrator of Goa reports directly to the Pope in Rome, Italy.
Until the middle of the 19 th century, Roman Catholic priests from Goa belonged to the Brahmin and Charddo Christians but during subsequent years, this practice started to decline. The Christians have seven major sacraments viz.: Baptism, Confirmation, Confession, Holy Eucharist, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, Matrimony.
Among these seven, the sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony are considered important among all the Christians. Christians bury their dead and are very concerned about the presence of priest in the case of a person who may be in danger of imminent death: evidently, the purpose of this is try and get the dying a person to confess to the priest all his sins committed during his life time so that the priest- using the powers given to him by Christ gives the dying person absolution and forgives him, in the name of God. For persons unable. to make this confession say, due to unconsciousness the priest performs the Sacrement of Extreme Unction: this sacrament involves the priest annointing the vital senses of the dying man with a specially blessed oil and prays to God to forgive the dying man for all his sins that may have been committed during his lifetime. During the burial ceremony, also, the priest is present and performs religious ceremonies; traditionally, black clothes are worn as a mark of mourning for the departed soul.
Goan Hindus, like Hindus in other parts of India, followed the Joint Family System which, during the closing stages of the 20th century seems to be breaking away. In the case of Goa, this breaking-away could be due to several young persons migrating to other places like Bombay. This joint family system was also prevalent among the Catholics, especially in days gone by. However, separation took place when young married couples choose to do so.
Under the Portuguese Civil Code, monogamy applied to everyone irrespective of religion (Hindus, Christians, Muslims, etc.).
Prior to Liberation, inter-caste and inter-religious marriages tended to be low but with better educational facilities, greater job opportunities for women and cultural meets — after Liberation — brought in a tendency for young people to select their respective life-partners. However, this does not mean that parental selection of brides and bridegrooms has been given discarded since in several families (Christian and Hindus alike), especially in the rural areas and even the tradition-bound ones, parents still do make the final selection and "arrange" marriage alliances.
Widow remarriage is permitted in Goa society but generally speaking widows in the past had been looked down upon with contempt if they remarried and widows of this type were considered as a 'Kapad nesleti bael'.
In respect of divorce, both males and females had the right to divorce under the Common Law made applicable to all Goans during the Portuguese regime. However, except in the case of mental illness, leprosy etc., divorce was rarely resorted to. Also, it was only in very rare cases that a wife sought a divorce on grounds of infidelity of husband.