Festivals in Goa
A harmonious blend of different cultures, characteristic of Goan population, gives it plenty of festive moments.
Despite a long period of Portuguese colonisation, the colourful festivals have retained their unique Goan aroma and are celebrated with deep fervour. Most of the celebrations are woven around religious occasions. Singing and dancing becomes a part of life. People step down to streets in vibrant attires and the whole state pulsates with the beats of merriment. Come to Goa during your holiday to see a new life, a life that never gets tired to enjoy!
This most awaited festival of Christians, marks the birth of Lord Jesus. Houses and Churches are decorated with Christmas trees, snow flakes, lights and glowing stars. The festival is celebrated with candies, cakes, alcoholic drinks, music and dance. Relatives and friends exchange gifts, send cards to each other, sing carol and party in the finest attires. The actual date of the Christ’s birth has never been nailed, however, in 350 A.D., the Bishop of Rome, Julius I, chose December 25 as the date to honour the birthday of the Christ Child.
According to an ancient myth, Santa Claus (a fat old man with grey hair, in a red outfit) brings gifts to good children at midnight while they are sleeping. Christmas in Goa is not restricted to Christians only. The festivities for Christmas last for one whole week, from December 24 to January 1. the grand festival is celebrated with cultural programmes and fire works with a never-ending spirit.
Food and Cultural Festival Of Goa
If you are a sea food lover and wish to visit Goa, then plan your vacations in the month of November. Goa, being a hot tourist destination for its lush beaches and other vacation spots, witnesses people from all corners of the world. This huge gathering provides a wonderful view of thousands of cultures and traditions at one place. Based on this diversity in cultures, the state celebrates the food and cultural festival. This five day event is organized on the beaches and people relish the awesome Goan taste in the food stalls. The local Goan sea food is, undoubtedly, the centre of attraction including platters of fish items and the Kokam Kadhi. This tempting food, with aromatic spices, is served on a banana leaf.
This festival was started in the year 1989. From housewives to master chefs of reputed hotels, everybody can be seen setting up the stalls. Delight yourself watching the cultural programmes and trying the special aerated drinks, alcoholic beverages, ice-creams or light snacks.
The Goa Carnival
This three-day festival was introduced by the Portuguese in the 18th century, who ruled over Goa for around five hundred years. Among all the colorful feasts and festivals that are celebrated in Goa, the Goa Carnival is the most eagerly awaited event. Full of colour, music, dance and enthusiasm, the Goa Carnival is celebrated by people from any and every religion with traditional revelries and even western dance forms.
The word Carnival (Carnaval in Portuguese) is derived from a Latin word meaning ‘to take away meat’ and is known for feasting, drinking and merrymaking, prior to the austere 40 days of Lent. The carnival has been celebrated since the 18th century when the legendary king Momo took over the state and the streets came alive with music and color.
The Goa Carnival is identified by huge parades taken out all night, and the people enjoy dance performances with bands, colourful outfits and masks. You can also see people smearing colour on each other. Falling in the month of February, the Goa Carnival introduces you to the shiny edge of Goan culture and traditions.
Feast Of Three Kings
Another traditional festival of Goa, the Feast of Three Kings is celebrated to show reverence to the Lady of Mount. All the communities of Goa collectively offer their prays to the Lady of Mount, who is considered the protector of the people. It is also believed that she blesses married couples with children and fulfills any wish made at her chapel. On the occasion of Festa dos Reis or the Epiphany on January 6 every year, people decorate her idol with jewellery and seek her blessings.
This traditional festival is quite popular in the villages of Reis Magos, Cansaulim, Chandor, Quelim and Arrosim. Three little boys perform the re-enactment of the three kings arriving with gifts for the Baby Christ. It gives you an enchanting opportunity to explore the traditional living of the Goan people through the fair, with several stalls of toys, mats, handicrafts, metal items, bangles, sweets, spices, clothes and furniture.
Ganesh Chaturthi, the most important Hindu festival, is celebrated on the 4th day of Bhadarva Shukla-Paksh of Hindu calendar (August/September). It is the celebration of elephant-headed Lord Ganesha, in which people enjoy traditional Hindu dance and music. The festival has a pan-Indian significance, in which Lord Ganesha is worshiped with Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The temples and houses are decorated with flowers and an idol of Lord Ganesha is installed in a small pandal, made of bunches of betel nut, coconut, bananas and branches of mango-trees.
Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayak Chaturthi, lasts for 7-10 days, and Laddoos (sweets) are distributed, milk is offered to idols of Lord Ganesh at home and at the temples. If you are in Goa during Ganesh Chaturthi, you should not miss the ritual of Visarjan. It is performed on the last day of the festival. The idol of Lord Ganesha is carried in a colourful procession accompanied by loud music and dance, and finally immersed in the sea. People unite to seek the blessings of Lord Ganesha on this holy occasion.
Apart from all these festivals, Goa celebrates several other occasions popular for their uniqueness in terms of art forms, traditions and rituals. A major occasion is Good Friday, followed by Easter Sunday. Good Friday was the day when Jesus was crucified. It is basically the culmination of Lent (a 40 day fast during February-March). The following Sunday (Easter Sunday) is believed to be the day when Jesus rose from his grave.
Sao Joao Festival
Another festival, purely meant for the sons-in-law, is Sao Joao Festival. Celebrated on June 24, the festival is basically the grand feast of St. John the Baptist. All the newly wed sons-in-law celebrate the occasion at their mother-in-law’s house. The mothers gift fruit baskets to their married daughters. The sons-in-law, wearing crown of leaves, carry bottles of feni while dancing and jump into wells/ponds.
People of Goa also celebrate Holi in a different style. They enjoy this festival of colours with traditional dances and performing arts. It is, locally, popular as Shigmotsav or Shigmo.
St. Francis Day
Another major Christian festival is St. Francis Day, which is celebrated on December 3 at the famous Church of Bom Jesus. It is a series of ceremony to honour the death of St. Francis Xavier (a great missionary). His body lies in a silver casket in the Church of Bom Jesus. A grand feast which welcomes people from all the communities and religions, is organised. Come, visit Goa !! Explore the unique and colourful traditions !!