Situated along the Konkan coast, Goa is the smallest state in India in terms of its area. Goa has only two districts North Goa and South Goa.
Boundaries of Goa are defined in the north by the Terekhol River which separates it from Maharashtra, and in the east and south by Karnataka and in the west by the Arabian Sea.
Goa’s distinct culture is evident from the dress, language, religion and cuisine. There is also a fusion of western and Indian folk culture in their music, dance and in the celebrations of festivals. This small territory became a part of India only in 1961 but the 400-odd years of Portuguese rule are still apparent from the lifestyle of the people.
Goa was a Portuguese colony till 1961. Panaji is the capital of Goa and is the third largest city after Vasco and Margoa.
Goa is one of India’s most popular holiday destinations, with its idyllic beaches, lush paddy fields, coconut plantations and
villages dotted with pretty white washed churches and grand mansions. Its other attractions include the Hindu temples around Ponda and magnificent cathedral of old Goa.
The location of Goa is such that it shares its borders with Maharashtra from north and northeast, with Karnataka from south and southeast and with Western Ghats from the east. The mighty Arabian Sea is situated along the western side of Goa.
The state is typically divided into two main districts – North Goa and South Goa. The administrative headquarters of South Goa is Margao, formerly known as Madgaon. Apart from this, the state is further divided into eleven taluks, namely, Pernem, Sattari, Bardez, Tiswadi, Bi-cholir and Ponda, which come under North Goa. On the other hand, Mormugao, Salcete, Quepe, Sanguem and Canacona come under South Goa.
The entire region of Goa can be divided into four main parts – the eastern hill consisting of areas in the Western Ghats such as Sattari, Canacona, Sanguem and Ponda; the central valley lands consisting of Bicholim, Ponda, Eastern Sanguem, Quepem and Pernem; the flood plains consisting of the rolling uplands and the coastal plains, and the Coastal Plains consisting of areas of Tiswadi, Mormugao, Salcete and Bardez.
Topography of Goa
Goa is blessed in terms of Topographic beauty. It falls into three distinct areas namely – Western Ghats, the midland regions and the coastal region.
Is the mountain ranges that run along the western coast of the country. The Western Ghats in Goa consist of the Sahayadri Ranges and comprise of an area of about 600 square kilometers. Some major peaks over here include Sonsagar (3829 feet), Catlanchimauli (3607 feet), Morlemchogor and Vaguerim (3500 feet).
The Midland Region
This region runs between the Western Ghats and the coast and is mostly made up of laterite grounds of an elevation between 100 feet and 330 feet. The laterite surface that covers much of Goa is rich in both manganese ores and iron. In areas where the soil is richer, they have become plantations for spices and fruits. Due to abundant water sources available, the terraced orchards have become areas for harvesting coconut palms and various fruits such as jackfruit, mangoes and pineapples.
The Coastline Area
Goa is blessed with beautiful beaches and amazing combinations of headlands and bays separated by huge streams of Mandovi and Zuari rivers. Among the bays, Calangute, Baga and Colva are long striking stretches of white sands and palm trees, which seem to be the reason that tourists often flock to Goa for vacations.
Rivers in Goa
The main rivers in Goa include Mandovi, Terekhol, Zuari, Kushavati, Sal and Chapora Rivers. Moreover, the Mormugao Habor on the banks of River Zuari is among the best natural harbors in South Asia. Goa also has around forty estuarine, ninety riverine and eight marine islands. The total length of all the rivers in Goa is around 253 kilometers. Moreover, Goa is also home to more than three hundred tanks and medicinal springs that were built during the Kadamba dynasty.
Did You Know? Both Zuari and Mandvi Rivers are two of the most important rivers in Goa that drain 69% of the geographical area in the state. They are also two of the busiest rivers in the country.
Climate and Weather of Goa
Due to its location, Goa experiences a very pleasant weather throughout the year, which makes it an ideal spot for a vacation.
Summers in Goa
Summers in Goa are usually hot and humid with the month of May being the hottest at 35o
C during the day. The nights are not much different, however, some nights might be cooler depending upon the winds.
Monsoons in Goa
Monsoon is the main season in Goa that starts from the month of June till the month of September. The month of July receives the highest amount of rainfall while the month of February is the driest. Most of Goa’s annual rainfall is received during the monsoon season only.
The monsoon season in Goa starts from the month of June till the month of October. If you are a big fan of the rains and love lush green countryside, then this is the best time to visit Goa. The state has a lot to offer than beaches during the monsoons. The rains bring immense refreshment and romance to the state, making it even more traditional. Travel to Goa during monsoons and see Goa, the local Goan way.
- Rains in Goa do not last for more than 15-20 minutes a day.
- Around 325 cm. of rainfall is received each year in Goa with 2 to 5 hours of sunshine everyday during monsoons.
Popular Attractions in Goa during Monsoons
Even though most of the popular beach attractions are closed during monsoons, there are still a number of fun and exciting things one can do in Goa between the months of June and October. Wildlife Sanctuaries
Goa’s beautiful wildlife sanctuaries are open throughout the year. Goa has numerous national parks, zoos and bird sanctuaries such as Mollem National Park near Panjim, Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary in Canacona, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary in Margao and Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in Chorao. All these wildlife sanctuaries are really breathtaking during the rains and are covered in a lush green blanket of trees.
Explore Verdant Landscapes in Goa
Monsoons are the best time to thoroughly explore Goa without worrying about the crowds. The rains turn Goa into a tropical paradise covered with lush green forests, trees and paddy fields. If you are lucky, you might even spot some peacocks during the day and fireflies in the night. The best way to explore Goa is to hire a car and just drive around the state.
Drive to the island of Divar where you will find fishermen casting their line of fishing rods in the Mandovi River. The top of the hill on the island provides a spectacular view of the river. Drive through the Latin Quarters in Panjim and view the colorful buildings and churches built during the Portuguese era. Explore the thunderous Dudhsagar Waterfalls in Goa during monsoons, which is the best time to visit these falls as the water rages from a higher altitude.
The best part of the rains in Goa is that they do not last for more than 15-20 minutes a day. This makes it easier for tourists to drive around the state and explore the areas without worrying about getting stuck in the rains. In case you do not want to rent a vehicle, you can easily hire a cab, which can also show you around.
Tours of Spice Plantations in Goa
Spice Plantations in Goa are another popular attractions during the monsoons in the state. If you want to learn how various spices such as cashew nuts are grown and cultivated, then take a guided tour through one of the popular spice plantations in Goa. Tropical Spice Farms and Sahakari Spice Farms are two well-known plantations for conducting tours. At just Rs. 400 per person, you will not only get to see how spices are grown, but also get to taste them along with other traditional beverages of Kokum and lemongrass. Moreover, a delicious buffet lunch serving authentic Goan cuisine is also served to the guests.
Festivals During Monsoons in Goa
Another major attraction during monsoons in Goa is the wide range of vibrant festivals celebrated over here. One of the most popular festivals over here, Sao Joao is celebrated during late June in Goa. Also known as the annual fertility feast of St. John the Baptist, where men are seen jumping into overflowing wells to retrieve bottles of Feni. Another popular festival called Feasts of Saints Peter and Paul are also celebrated during the end of June, where people sail up the river on rafts singing and performing on different songs. During late August, a popular carnival called Bonderam Flag Festival, held on Divar Island is also celebrated. These festivals portray the true culture of Goa and must be included in every visitor’s itinerary.
Nightlife during Monsoons in Goa
The party capital of India is very quiet during the monsoons, however, popular places like Café Mambo’s and Tito’s on Baga Beach are open throughout the year. The club at The Park Hotel in Calangute is another popular place to hang out during the monsoon season. Another famous place in Goa during monsoons for great music and drinks is the SinQ Beach Club and LPK Waterfront. There are also many places that have live music and jam sessions on Friday and Saturday nights during monsoons in Goa. You can also try your luck at one of the many popular casinos in Goa.
Winters in Goa
The winter season in Goa falls between the months of mid-December to February, with January being the coldest month. It is also the best time to visit Goa, as it is neither too hot nor too cold. The temperature during these months is around 21 degree Celsius during the night and around 28 degree Celsius during the day, with moderate humidity. However, as you venture inland, the nights might be a few degrees cooler.
Beaches in Goa
With a total coastline length of more than 100 kms, Goa is certainly the paradise which can attract anybody from any corners of the world. From beautiful bikini babes to relaxing retiring couples to young energetic boys indulging in water sports and happy families enjoying a beach side brunch. Probably, the beaches of Goa has got almost all the attributes to be the perfect beach paradise.
The beaches are practically divided into 2 regions - the one belonging to North Goa and the other belonging to the South Goa. Northern beaches are known for their vibrant appeal with majority of nightlclubs and beach pubs, while the Southern beaches are known for their tranquility, offering great relaxing atmosphere especially for couples looking for some quiet time, painters, elderly and meditational folks.
To know more about the beaches in Goa, click here
Waterfalls and Natural Springs
Even though Goa is one of the smallest states in the country, it comprises of some of the most important historical consequences. History of Goa dates back to some 20,000 – 30,000 years ago. The rock art engravings display the initial traces of human life in the country. Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic Rock Art engravings have been discovered at the banks of Kushavati River at Usgalimal. Petro Glyphs, stone axes, cones and choppers as old as 10,000 years have been found in Goa in Kazur, Mandovi-Zuari Basin and Mauxim. Proof of Palaeolithic life have also been found at Dabolim, Shigao, Adkon, Arli, Fatorpa, Maulinguinim, Sanguem, Diwar, Aquem-Margaon and Pilerne.
During the 3rd Century BC, Goa became a part of the Mauryan Empire under the leadership of the Buddhist Emperor, Ashoka from Magadha. The Buddhist monks were the ones who pioneered the concept of Buddhism in Goa. From 2nd Century BC to 6th Century AD, Goa was under the rule of Bhojas. Chutus of Karwar also ruled some parts of Goa as feudatories of Satavahanas of Kohlapur, who ruled from 2nd Century BC to 100 AD. In 150 AD, Kshatrapa King Rudradaman I ruled over Goa, after defeating his father-in-law – Vashishtiputra Satakarni. He ruled till 249 AD, after which the dynasty seemed to have weakened because of the Abhiras.
Bhojas also ruled over Goa, first as a feudatory of the Mauryan Empire and later as an independent dynasty. The Bhojas may have ruled over Goa for over 500 years as the earliest record of the Bhoja Empire dates back to 4th Century AD. According to the beliefs, Bhojas descended from the clan of Yadavas, who migrated to Goa through Dwaraka after the war of Mahabharata. Chador, earlier known as Chandrapur, was the capital of the Bhoja Empire. Medieval Times
Goa was under the rule of several dynasties between the periods of 1st century BC to 1500 AD. During this period, there was no organized judicial system in the state, except those traditions when Goa was ruled by absolute rulers and local chieftains.
Kadambas of Goa
Goa was under the rule of Kadambas from 10th Century till 14th Century. Initially, they only ruled over Sashti and a small region of Konkan but later they also took over Chandor and the port of Gopakapattana. The Kadambas ruled for more than 400 years in Goa until they were overthrown by Devagiri Yadavas. After the invasion by Muslims, the Kadamba dynasty was completely finished. However, ruins of palaces, temples, mansions and markets can still be found at Chandor Village.
Muslim Rule in Goa
During 1350 AD, Goa came under the rule of Bahmani Sultanate or Bahmani Kingdom, which was the first Islamic Kingdom in South India. It was one of the greatest Indian Kingdoms during the medieval times. However, in 1370 AD, it was overthrown by the Vijayanagar Empire, whose headquarters were situated at modern day Hampi. In 1469, Goa was again conquered by the Bahmani Sultans of Gulbarga. When, in 1492, this sultanate broke up, Goa became a part of Adil Shah’s Bijapur Sultanate. The former secretariat building in the present capital city of Panaji was initially Adil Shah’s palace, which was later, conquered by the Portuguese Viceroys.Portuguese Rule in Goa
During 1510, Afonso De Albuquerque, a Portuguese admiral, attacked Goa at the command of Thimayya, the local chieftain. However, after loosing to its former ruler Adil Shah, he returned on 25th November with a full fleet and in less than a day took over Goa from Adil Shah, who surrendered on 10th December. It was believed that around 6000 Muslim defenders died during the attack.
Albuquerque acquired the support of the Hindu population, however this infuriated Thimayya, who wanted to control the city. Albuquerque rewarded him by promoting him as the chief of Aguazil, who was the administrator of both Hindu and Muslim Community. Albuquerque opened the first Portuguese mint in the East, in Goa, after complaints from the merchants about scarcity of the currency. He also used it as an opportunity to manufacture new coins, which bore a cross on one side and a sphere on the other side. In 1511, additional mints were set up in Malacca. In 1526, a custom register was established abolishing some old customs such as Sati. It is one of the most valuable documents related to Goan customs.
Later, Goa was announced as the capital of Portuguese Vice Kingdom in Asia along with other possessions by the Portuguese in the country. In 1563, the government made a proposal to give Goa a seat in the parliament representing all areas under Portuguese in the East, however it was rejected by the King.
The Portuguese also set up a base over here to strengthen their control of the profitable spice trade. Products from all over the East were showcased in the market and there were different streets for different products such as Bahrain Pearls, Chinese Porcelain and Silk, Malay Archipelago spices and Portuguese velvet.
During 1542, St. Francis Xavier highlights the architectural grandeur of Goa, which had reached its height of prosperity by 1625. During 1556, India was first introduced to the printing press at St. Paul’s College in Goa. This also became the headquarters of the Jesuits in Asia, which was also used to train Jesuit missionaries. The missionaries traveled and spread their knowledge far up north also, where Mughal Emperor Akhbar invited them to come and teach him and his children about Christianity.
The emergence of Dutch in the Indian waters saw the decline of Goa. In 1603 and 1639, Goa was attacked by the Dutch fleets however it was never captured. After escaping from Agra, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj conquered Pernem, Bicholim, Ponda, Sattari, Sanguem, Cancona, Quepem, Saudekar Rajas and Sawantwadi Bansale, which became his vassals. In 1683, his son tried to gain control over the entire state and he almost won too but, to the surprise of Portuguese, the Mughal Army came to their rescue. After the Third Battle of Panipat, the Portuguese defeated the king of Sawantwadi and Sunda and conquered the area from Pernem to Cancona. This formed the Novas Conquistas, which are the boundaries of modern Goa. During the same time, the viceroy moved out of his residence from outside Goa to New Goa, present-day Panaji. In 1843, this was announced as the official seat of government. The first election was held on 14th January 1822 in Goa, electing three locals as the members of the Parliament. After Independence of India
In 1947, when India became independent, Goa still remained under the rule of the Portuguese. Jawaharlal Nehru persisted that Goa be handed over back to India, however, the Portugal refused. France, who had some small enclaves in the country, surrendered all their control quickly.
In 1954, some Indians launched an attack over the enclaves of Darda and Nagar Haveli, which led the Portuguese to file a complaint with the International Court of Justice as The Hague. In 1960, the court declared that India had the right to deny access to the enclaves to Portugal over Indian Territory. In 1955, Satyagrahis took over Fort Tiracol and erected the Indian flag, however they were driven away by the Portuguese. Later in the same year, Nehru declared that he would not tolerate the presence of Portuguese in the country and he then instituted a blockade against all the Portuguese ruled cities in the country. It was at this time, Goa was given its own airline - Transportes Aéreos da índia, by the Portuguese, to overcome the blockade.
On 16th December 1961, Operation Vijay was launched where Indian troops crossed the borders to enter Goa. The attack lasted for more than 36 hours, however it finally resulted in an unconditional surrender from the Portuguese on 19th December. In 1987, Goa finally became a part of the Indian Statehood.
After becoming a part of the Indian Territory, Goa was under the military rule for 5 months, nevertheless, the previous civil service was soon reinstated and Goa finally became a federally administered territory. Goa commemorates its Liberation Day on 19th December every year.
The per capita GDP of Goa is two and a half times than that of the nation, making it one of the richest states in the country. Goa solely demands 12.5% of the tourism of India, making tourism one of the main sources of revenue for the state. The population of the state doubles during certain months due to influx of tourists. The Economy of Goa has grown at a rapid pace in the past twenty years and depends on agriculture, mining, industrial and tourism sectors.
The Economy of the state largely depends on the tourism sectors because of the high tourist influx in the state. In 2010, more than 2 million tourists visited the coastal areas of Goa and 1.4 million visited the inlands. Goa alone handles 12% of the foreign tourists arriving in the country, making tourism sector, its primary industry. Goa has two main tourist seasons – summer and winter. Foreign tourists mainly come during the winter season due to the pleasant climate and in summers, tourists from India come to Goa to spend their holidays.
The state has a very low excise duty on alcohol, making it relatively inexpensive. This draws many young tourists from around the globe looking for economical holidays. Along with this, the pristine beaches, cultural festivals, Gothic churches and temples draw a lot of tourists to the state. The Portuguese, Dutch and British influence has lead to a blend of religion and ethnic history, garnering much appreciation from Indian and foreign tourists.Mining Sector
Mining is the second biggest industry in the state. Goa is the leading producer and exporter of iron ore, manganese, bauxite, high magnesia, limestone and clay. Thus after tourism, the mining industry thrives in Goa. Thus, mining has given a major boost to the economy of Goa and provided employment opportunities to many. Most of the mines are located in Northern and Eastern Goa while Marmagoa port handles the mine extracts. It is responsible for handling over 39% of the country’s Iron Ore exports.
Though, in recent times uncontrolled mining has lead to deforestation and various health hazards in the state. Mining Corporations have been indulging in illegal mining without permits, which has drawn a lot of criticism to the industry. Agriculture Sector
Agriculture has been losing its importance over the past years, but it still is a source of livelihood for majority of the people in Goa. Rice is the principle agricultural crop grown. Other important crops include paddy, ragi and maize. Various cash crops like cashew nuts, mango, jackfruit, bananas, and pineapple are also grown in abundance. Cashew nuts are used for production of feni, an intoxicating drink. Canals, rivers, tanks and streams constitute the main source of irrigation.Industrial Sector
The Industrial sector includes various manufacturing units of tyres and tubes, pesticides, fertilizers, iron ore pellets, wheat products, pharmaceuticals, steel rolling, sugar, footwear, fish canning, textiles, leather, bamboo crafts, handloom and brewery products.Fisheries
Fishing was a hereditary occupation, long established in the Goan culture. But in recent times, the employment generated by the sector has reduced due to fall in catch and dependence on technological advancements like large scale mechanized trawling.
Goa has witnessed steady growth over the past few years because of steady growth of tourism industry and a strong mining industry backed by the agricultural sector.
A former Portuguese territory, Goa is often known as the ‘Rome of the East
’. Since the past decades, Goa has become a popular tourist destination among both local and foreign tourists. 40 years after the departure of the Portuguese, Goa is probably the most westernized state in the country.
One of the best things about Goa is the laws in the state, which is one of the most important legacies the Portuguese left behind. The common civil code, which treats all religions as one, that is, provides no preference to any particular religion is very eminent here. Moreover, it also treats both the genders equally.
Goa’s rich cultural heritage includes various forms of dances, folk songs, music, visual arts and folk tales. Goans are born music lovers; most of them even know how to play at least one instrument brilliantly.
Religions in Goa
Due to its glorious history, Goa has a mixed parentage. The culture in Goa developed from its various Hindu, Muslim and the Portuguese rulers. Being a multi-ethnic state, Goans treats each religion equally and are very open-minded towards each others belief. The locals in Goa are very laid-back and friendly people.
Goa has mainly two religions prevalent in the state – Hinduism and Christianity, which have lived in harmony since decades. They equally participate in each other’s festivals and feasts with a lot of passion and zest. Many Hindus actively take part in the annual St. Francis Xavier’s feast and similarly, many Catholics also participate in the various Hindu festivals and fairs.
Festivals in Goa
As mentioned above, all the religions in Goa live in harmony with each other and actively take part in each others festivals. Goans love an occasion where they can party; therefore one can find a number of fairs, feasts, fests and festivals celebrated in Goa. Some popular festivals in Goa includes Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali
, Shigmo and Samvatsar Padvo.
Christmas and New Years in Goa
and New Years Eve
in Goa is unlike any other festival in the state. From the beginning of December onwards, one can feel the excitement and enthusiasm in the state. The entire streets of Goa are bustling with people decorating their houses and indulging in discounted shopping around Christmas.
No matter which religion one belongs to, everyone is seen celebrating the festival of Christmas with equal amounts of zest and passion. Take part in the melodious Christmas carols or sing and dance along the remarkable Christmas parade. With beautifully decorated churches, sun-kissed beaches and relaxing yoga and Ayurvedic centers, Goa is the place to be this season.
During Christmas and New Years, it seems like the entire state has come out on the roads to party and celebrate. Everyone is dressed in his or her finest clothes and is ready to just have a good time. Dance and music are a vital part of the many celebrations. On Christmas Eve, many families go out to observe Midnight Mass, which honors the birth of Jesus Christ. Gifts are exchanges and carols are sung during midnight with beautiful lighting and candles all over.
Being the party capital of India, Goa has some of the best clubs and bars in the country. After Christmas celebrations are over, everyone becomes anxious for New Years. Many events take place during the time between Christmas and New Years to keep the visitors and locals entranced and enthralling. For instance, the famous Sunburn Festival, attended by thousands of people from all over the world, takes place during this period only. Most of the clubs and pubs are open till late at night, giving party animals a perfect opportunity to party till the wee hours of morning.
Christmas and New Years celebrations are in high gear throughout the country, but no metro city or town can match the enthusiasm and nightlife of Goa. Throughout the month, the beautiful beaches of Goa are crowded with thousands of tourists sunbathing, partying or just relaxing on one of the beach chairs. Live music, delicious food, colorful beaches, late night parties, beautifully decorated churches and thrilling water sports perfectly describe the party scene in Goa during New Years.
Christmas and New Years in Goa does not mean that families cannot enjoy together during this time. There are many fun activities such as swimming, building sand castles and snorkeling available over here that are ideal for children too. Elderly people can relax in one of the many churches and temples or unwind through a soothing Ayurvedic massage. Moreover, during this period most of the shops offer great discounts and bargains on different products for tourists to indulge in.
Cruise parties, lively beach shacks and rave parties are just some of the few things one can enjoy during their stay over here. Since Goa is one of the most popular tourist destinations between the months of November and February, it can get fully booked very fast. Therefore, it is advisable to get booking done in advance to avoid any cancellations. Even though most of the prices go up during this season, there are many budget hotels and guesthouses available in Goa, which offer rooms at very reasonable rates.
Finally, on New Years Eve, there is nothing more dazzling than the beaches of Goa. As soon as the sun goes down, parties and loud music start playing in the many beach shacks. When the clock strikes 12, splendid fireworks start displaying, lighting up the dark sky and welcoming the New Year with a loud bash.
Feast of Three Kings
The coastal state of Goa on the Indian western coast has many attractions for explorers. The majestic towns and the warm affection of its people have made it a tourist hotspot in more ways than one. Beaches and casinos are not the only places to visit in Goa. There are several local events as well that draw crowds in large numbers. One such event is the Festival of Three Kings that is celebrated in large parts of the state in the early part of January.
Feast of the Three Kings is dedicated to the kings of Magi who brought gifts when Jesus was born. A local hillock is the site of the festivities as many locals believe that this is the place where three sets of footprints, belonging to Lord Jesus and Mother Mary can be found. It is believed to be the place where they rested before continuing their journey. The festival is known by different names, such as Festa dos Reis and the Holy Epiphany. Feast of the Three Kings is a Christian festival, however celebrations are rarely confined to religion. Local populations come out in large numbers and even Hindus join in large numbers. At its climax, the festival becomes a spectacle; a delight for the eye. January 6 is the date on which this festival is celebrated annually. But preparations begin several days earlier.
- The festival began as homage to the visitors who brought gifts for the infant Jesus.
- Today, the festival gives an opportunity for the people to celebrate and make merry.
- The climax of the festival is the selection of three kings; one from each of the villages; Quelim, Cansaulim and Arrosim.
- The three kings are chosen between the ages of 8 to 12.
The screening process for this is long and many a time, the process itself is the core of the festivities. A long and joyous celebration follows as the ‘three kings’ lead a procession to the top of the hills where the footsteps are located. Reenactment of the scenes that took place during the birth of Christ takes place. The three kings of the day are clad in luxurious outfits and elaborate pieces of clothing. Dancing, merrymaking and feasting follow the prayer ceremony. A fair is commonly held where people can get their hands on anything Goan.
The popularity of the festival crosscuts local diversity and culture. Though dominantly celebrated in the southern part of the state, the event has managed to generate considerable excitement even among tourists and the rest of the state. Therefore, it has become more of a state festival.
The rituals of the festivities are unique and do not follow the established practices of any other festival. The hill, central to all the festivities is held in high esteem even during the rest of the year. The Feast of the Three Kings has become an important identity of the Portuguese culture of Goa. It carries the hallmark of semblance of the Indian culture and the colonial rulers who governed the state for centuries.
Historic Trivia: Goa Carnival is a three day non stop festival filled with lots of entertainment, fun and excitement for all ages. The word carnival is derived from the Latin word 'Carne’, which means meat and ‘Vale’, meaning ‘good-bye’. Some also believe that the word Carnival is derived from ‘Carnislevamen’ that translates to ‘the pleasures of meat’, which basically means enjoying meat during the festival, before the abstinence during Lent. Another hypothesis is that the word evolved from ‘Carrus Navalis’, which is a horse drawn boat shaped vehicle that paraded through the streets during the Roman festival of Saturnalia. Many men and women, dressed in fancy clothes and masks, board the carriage singing and dancing merrily. It is possible that the modern day concept of a carnival evolved from this notion.
Generally held between the months of February and March, Goa Carnival is
one of the best times to visit Goa as the entire state is lit up with
colorful decorations and the atmosphere is one of joy and celebration.
Goa Carnival is an integral part of the Portuguese heritage over here,
which was a colony of Portugal till 1961. This three day festival
symbolizes the fun loving culture of Goa. The Carnival dates back to
almost 500 years during the rule of Portuguese when violent celebrations
were very popular in Rome and Greece, and later also became popular in
Spain and Portugal. Therefore, when Goa became a colony of Portugal,
they introduced the festival over here as well.
However, nowadays the carnival is celebrated in much different manner.
Even though it still preserves the core of the original festival, the
carnival that is celebrated today has more of a Goan flavor and is one
of the most awaited festivals in Goa with the entire state adorned with
beautiful decorations, ribbons and streamers. A King of Chaos is
selected, who is called the King of “Momo”. He is in charge of the
entire festival that is attended by thousands of tourists from India and
Did You Know: In the ancient days, the festival was celebrated in a very riotous manner where flour, eggs, lemons, oranges along with dirty water and other various liquids were thrown at the passersby. Old pots and pans were also thrown out of the houses. This was mainly done to clean the house before the Lenten fast. People also gorged on luscious food at the many lavish feasts. Though the festival would only be for three days, the preparations would take many weeks, which would build up a chaotic pitch just before the eve of the carnival.
However, nowadays the carnival is celebrated in much different manner. Even though it still preserves the core of the original festival, the carnival that is celebrated today has more of a Goan flavor and is one of the most awaited festivals in Goa with the entire state adorned with beautiful decorations, ribbons and streamers. A King of Chaos is selected, who is called the King of “Momo”. He is in charge of the entire festival that is attended by thousands of tourists from India and abroad.
Goa Carnival is the most popular festival in Goa, for which the preparations and decorations start from the month of December itself. The event is celebrated continuously for three days and nights, when King Momo
takes over the state and the entire streets come alive with music, dance and color. Apart from singing, dancing and other forms of entertainment, the carnival also includes a short play depicting the unique culture and heritage of Goa. The festival kick starts with the famous Food and Cultural Festival, with the cooking competition being the primary attraction. The Carnival usually starts off on Sabado Gordo
(Fat Saturday) and ends on Shrove Tursday
(Fat Tuesday) or on the eve of Ash Wednesday, which is also the first day of Lent. The season of Lent is a 40 day period of strict fasting and penance in the Christian Calendar, very similar to the Mohammedan fast before Ramzan Eid
Lavish floats and colorful processions adorn the streets of Goa during the Carnival. It is a time when everyone forgets their tensions and joyously takes part in all the merrymaking. Various folk songs, dances, street plays are performed before an enthusiastic audience. Lavish floats depicting popular nursery rhymes and lullabies parade on the streets of Goa.
Moreover, many cultural functions, fun competitions, performance by both local level and national level artists also take place during the festival, which are judged by various people and awarded prizes by King Momo. Also, more than 70 stalls are set up, selling delicious food and beverages during the festivities. The entire parade is led by King Momo, followed by his entourage of fire-eaters, acrobats, clowns, jesters and brass bands. It is truly a wonderful sight as he orders his people to “Khao Piyo and Majja Karo
”, which basically means he is telling them to eat, drink and make merry. In this fun-filled ambience, people also smear color on each other’s faces, instead of flours, eggs and dirty water, which used to the case during the time of the Portuguese.
The Carnival is not celebrated anywhere else in the country and its popularity was declining in Goa during the last few years of the Portuguese era. However, with the Liberation of the State, it was revived to boost tourism in the state. This three day festival renders an aura of unlimited fun and entertainment and is visited by thousands of tourists from all over the world every year.
Cashew and Coconut Festival in Goa
The annual Cashew and Coconut Festival in Goa is a perfect combination of entertainment and knowledge. No festival in the world provides as much knowledge about cashews and coconuts than this event. Visitors and tourists can learn a lot and at the same time have a lot of fun, experimenting with different flavors and taking part in various fun activities like coconut bowling.
Cashew was first introduced in the country in Goa only. It plays a significant role in the economy of the state. Similarly, coconut palms are also very important and an equal contributor to the state. Held mostly in the month of May, Goa Cashew and Coconut Festival focuses on educating people about the various traditional uses of cashews and coconuts. It is also done with an objective of improving tourism in the state.
This exciting 5 day festival is attended by thousands of tourists from all over the world. Moreover, it gives the local people a chance to reconnect with their roots and culture. The cashew and coconut festival includes a lot of fun activities such as cookery shows, music concerts, cocktail demonstrations using Feni and various stalls selling beautiful handicrafts made with coconut shells and additional by-products. It also features various competitions such as cashew nut stomping, coconut breaking and coconut tree climbing. Moreover, the various sumptuous dishes made out of coconut and cashews are definitely worth trying over here. According to the managing director of GTDC – around 70,000 to 80,000 people, both domestic and international, are expected to take part in this event every year.
Fun games such as ‘Who is the Toughest Nut
’ using coconuts keep the tourists entertained throughout the event. Most of the activities and competitions that take place over here test the skills and strength of the participants. Thrilling events such as ‘Coconut Tree Climbing
’ also take place where one can actually climb the coconut tree, albeit with complete safety equipment, and experience the thrill of coconut harvesting. Furthermore, if you are not interested in all these exciting activities, you can also taste the various delicious cocktails made out of Feni. There is also a food counter by the Goan Culinary Club, demonstrating various dishes that can be made using cashew nuts and coconuts. Each day represents a new kind of dish showcasing the unique talent of the hotel chefs.
Apart from the fun activities and the delicious food, the decorations during the fest are another interesting thing to look forward to. While the entrance to the venue is adorned with lush green groves, the main stage is built in a manner similar to a Goan mansion that is surrounded by numerous coconut palms. The main stage features some of the best dancers, musicians and singers in Goa performing on special customized acts. A non-stop thirty minute dance performance also takes place during the event, featuring nine best Goan dance forms. During the entire event, visitors will be offered rare insights into the astounding potential of these two fruits and their significance to the lifestyle of the Goans.
Another popular festival celebrated in Goa is Shivaratri
. It is one of the oldest festivals in the state and is celebrated in the honor of Lord Shiva at all the major temples like Mangueshi, Ramnathi, Madkai, Shiroda, Borim and Mulgaon over here. Goa is also known for its exciting New Year’s celebrations, which attracts a number of tourists from all over the world.
Food in Goa
Fish, Rice and Curry cooked in coconut oil, chilli peppers, vinegar and various spices are the main ingredients in Goan cuisine. The food in Goa is essentially divided into Goan Catholic dishes and Goan Hindu dishes.
Humann, Fried Fish, Uddamethi, Kismur and different varieties of pickles and Papads are some of the famous Goan Hindu dishes in Goa, where as, Ambot tik, Balchão, Canja de galinha, Chamuça, Croquettes, Xacuti, Samarein Chi Kodi and Vindaloo are some of the famous Goan Catholic dishes over here. Khatkhate, an exotic Goan stew, is a popular dish between both Hindu and Catholic festivals in Goa.
One of the most famous beverages in Goa is Feni, which is of two types. Cashew Feni that is made from fermenting the fruit of cashew tree and Coconut Feni, which is made from fermenting the sap of toddy palms. Additionally, Goa is also rich in wine culture.
Arts, Music and Dance in Goa
Music, dance, theater and cinema are embedded in the heart of Goans since their birth. Having a long list of different rulers, Goa has become rich in art, culture and heritage. Performing Arts in Goa is a unique specialty of this state. Though it widely falls under the category of music, drama and dance, but mixed with the distinct Goan flavor, arts in Goa can easily be distinguished from that of the other states in the country.
Due to its rich culture and the friendly nature of the locals, performing arts in Goa perfectly blend with the prosperous heritage of the state. In order to maintain and revive the arts culture in Goa, the government has sponsored an independent organization called Kala Academy of Goa
. Built in 1970, this organization was set up with the main objective of restoring, rejuvenating and improving the different forms of dance, music and drama in Goa.
Dance Forms in Goa
Some famous traditional forms of dance in Goa include Talgadi, Tonya Mel, Mando, Goff, Kunbi Dance, Dasarawadan, Suvari, Hanpeth, Virabhadra, Gauda Jagar, Fugadi, Ranmale, Ghode Modni, Musal Dance, Lamp Dance, Dekhni, Dhangar Dance and Dhalo. The most important factor about Goa dance forms is that it perfectly illustrates the rich culture of the state. It is the ideal combination of Indian styles of dance with Western Dance forms. Here are some popular dance forms in Goa:
Dashavatara means the ten forms of Lord Vishnu with ‘Das’ meaning ten and ‘Avatar’ meaning incarnations. Many believe that this dance form was originated from Yakshgana, while others believe it evolved from Kuchipudi. It was introduced during the 16th century in the Konkan region.
Dekhni literally means ‘bewitching beauty
’ in Konkani language. Another popular form of dance in Goa, it is represented by an interesting mixture of western and folk music, danced mainly by Christian girls in Indian attire. The gestures in Dekhni have been mostly borrowed from Bharatanatyam and Kathak dance forms. The dancers carry small oil ‘diyas’ in their hands while dancing. Only two or three Dekhni songs were composed and produced a long time ago, which are still present today.
Mainly danced by women in either circles or rows, Fugdi dance is another popular dance form in Goa. This dance form only consists of a few hand gestures and some fixed steps but with a wide range of Fugdi songs. These songs usually depict the stories, family life and rivalries of the people during the Puranic Times. Fugdi dance form is very popular during festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi
An interesting convergence of various colorful strands, Goff form of dance represents the impressions left behind by the numerous dynasties that ruled over Goa. Goff dance is presented annually in Canacona, Quepem and Sanguem Taluk during the Shigmo festival. Each dancer, during the dance, holds a colorful strand, which is hanging from the center point called the ‘Mand
’ and they start dancing complicatedly with the others, forming a beautiful braid at the end of the first part of the dance, which is then unraveled by dancing backwards.
Another popular dance form in Goa, especially in the rural areas, Dhalo is mostly performed by women under the moonlit night of the ‘Pausha
’ month. It is a slow dance form and is performed at night during the week long festivities. Dedicated to Mother Earth and Sylvan Deity, the dance is performed to mostly Konkani and Marathi songs. Around 12 to 24 women assemble after dinner every night, who divide themselves into groups of two and dance in an arm-around-the-back form. During the last day of the festivities, all the women wear fancy dresses and some even caricature men.
As the name suggests, dancers balance brass lamps on their heads while doing slow dance movements. More popular in South Goa and during Shigmo Festival, lamp dance or Divlyam Nach is one of the most difficult dance forms, as it requires enormous amounts of self-discipline. Ghumat, Cymbal, Shamel and Harmonium are the accompanying instruments during this dance.
Music in Goa
Goa has produced a number of prominent musicians and singers for the world of Indian music and Bollywood
cinema also. Moreover, since 1980’s – 1990’s, Trance Music has also gained a lot of popularity over here.
Traditional Music in Goa
Did You Know: Hindustan Classical singer Kesarbai Kerkar (1892–1977), popular Bollywood singer, Lata Mangeshkar and her sister Asha Bhosle and a famous Konkani singer, Lorna Cordeiro, all have their origins from the state of Goa.
The traditional music instruments in Goa include mridanga, dhol, ghumat, tabla, kasale, shehnai, madlem, surt, nagado, tambura and tasso.
The Ghumat is an earthen vessel with openings on the opposite sides, one larger than the other with the middle portion bulging out. This instrument is mostly used during several Hindu festivals and some temple rituals such as Bhivari, Suvari Vadan and Mando performances. Another popular instrument in Goa is the Madlem, which is basically a cylindrical earthen vessel that is covered at both ends with lizard skin. It is typically played by the Kunbis during festivals and events. Other instruments like the Piano, Violin and the mandolin were introduced during the Portuguese rule in Goa.
Konkani songs are categorized into four groups: one which perfectly blends the native and the western music like Deknis, second which is a more pristine form of music as in Fugdi and Dhalo, third which blends native and western music as well as the language like Dulpod and the fourth, which is mostly influenced by the western music as in Mando. As many as 35 forms of Konkani songs are recognized today including Banvarh, Dekhni, Dulpod, Dhalo, Duvalo, Fell, Fughri, Kunnbi, Mando, Launim, Ovi, Palnnam, Tiatr, Talghari, Zoti and Zagor. There are many existing Hindu and Christian songs, which are also a major part of the Goan daily life.
Western Music in Goa
Goa became a part of India in 1961, but it had been ruled by the Portuguese since the 16th century, which is why it is more influenced by the western culture than other state in the country. Western classical and popular music is more famous in Goa than any other part of India.
Trance music became popular in Goa at the same time it became popular in Europe. It originated during the early 1990’s and was the answer to the rising pop culture in the state. Trance music in Goa first started gaining popularity at the various beaches of Goa where the music scene was already very established. However, by 1998 it was replaced by Psychedelic trance, also known as Psytrance
. Although, there are still many trance music developers like Slinky Wizard, Hallucinogen and Total Eclipse producing trance music in Goa today, however they just refer it to ‘PSY’. Flying Rhino Records, TIP Records, Transient Records, Dragonfly Records, Phantasm Records, Blue Room Released and Symbiosis Records were all the major players in Goa.
Konkani Cinema in Goa
Konkani Cinema is a part of the Indian Film Industry, where films are mainly produced in Konkani language. Spoken mainly in the states of Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra and to some extent in Kerala, the films of this language are also primarily produced in these states only. It is also spoken in some parts of United States, United Kingdom, Uganda, Kenya, Persian Gulf, Pakistan and Portugal.
Konkani is an Indo-Aryan language belonging to the Indo-European family of languages and is mostly spoken on the western coast of the country. According to statistics, approximately 3.6 million users speak this language and it is also the official language in Goa and a minority language in Northern Kerala (Kasaragod District) and Karnataka. The minority part of this language is a member of the Southern Indo-Aryan group. The language consists of elements from the ancient Indo-European language structure and also shows similarities with eastern and western Indo-Aryan languages.
The first full length Konkani movie was released on 24th April 1950 called Mogacho Anvddo. It was produced and directed by Antonio Lawrence Jerry Braganza, a local from the town of Mapusa, under the name of ETICA Pictures (Exchange Talkies of India, China and Africa). Therefore, 24th April is celebrated as Konkani Cinema Day and Jerry Braganza is known as the ‘Father of Konkani Cinema’.
Another popular Konkani Film called Paltadacho Munis or The Man Beyond the Bridge was nominated as the worlds best film in 2009. It was directed by Laxmikant Shetgaonkar
and also premiered at Toronto International Film Festival
where it won International Federation of Film Critics award. Moreover, it was also selected as the opening movie for the Indian Panorama segment at the 40th International Film Festival of India
(IFFI). It also won the Best Feature Film in Konkani at the 61st National Film Awards. The most successful film in Konkani, as of June 2011, is called O Maria, directed by Rajendra Talak. In 2012, the Konkani Cinema changed 360 degree by releasing its first Digital Theatrical Film directed by Milroy Goes, called ‘The Victim’.
Other popular Konkani Films are Sukhachem Sopon, Nirmonn, Amchem Noxib, Mhoji Ghorkarn, Kortubancho Sonvsar, Mog ani Moipas, Jivit Amchem Oxem, Bhuierantlo Munis, Boglantt, Suzanne, Bhogsonne and Padri. Another famous Konkani Film is Ujwadi, a 2011 film directed and produced by Kasargod Chinna and, KJ Dhananjaya and Anuradha Padiyar respectively.