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Art of Contentment

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“Allegria” is another popular Portuguese word, and means “joy”. Having a good time, and getting others to join us, comes naturally to us Goans. A beautiful naturally blessed land, centuries of being a melting pot for people from Europe and Africa, rural and family traditions, cultures of Portugal and other civilizations, years of working in British Africa, India, the Gulf and every corner of the world, visitors from all.

over the world- no other state in India has had so much exposure to so many different cultures and peoples. We Goans have a work culture and an education tradition, and you will find industrious, well educated Goans all over India, Europe, America and the Gulf. There are more Goans in Toronto than in Mapusa! There are just as many Hindus as Christians in Goa, as well as other communities, and what a lot of people miss is that we all have our priorities right- making time for family, friends, togetherness, conversation, good food, good wine or feni, music, dance, sport. (and of course nothing is more important than fish!)


Here are some of the festas and jatras we celebrate. There are so many, many more peculiar to each village. All villages have their patron saints and “Bom Fest” is a greeting often heard. ( Ask the about the Feast of the Robbers in Aldona, about the firewalking jatra in Shrigaon, or about the Zagor in Siolim, an all night song fest where the singers make fun of all the prominent people around, most often the local bhatcar or landlord. ) As you’ll see, any reason to celebrate life is a good one.


King Momos zany rule begins some time in February-March and its end marks the beginning of Lent or period of abstinence. Traditionally, Christians give up meat during Lent and so on the Tuesday night before Ash Wednesday, they partake of a feast that is celebrated as Carnival (carne meaning meat in Latin). ” Goodbye to Meat” is marked by a parade with bands, floats and dancing in the streets of Panjim, Mapusa and other cities, as well as smaller dos in the villages, and much crazy merriment. There is the famous street dance called the Black and Red Dance one night in Panjim, to some of Goas best bands, where these colours are worn.


This is the full-moon pre-Vedic festival that brings the cold months of winter to a close and heralds days of spring. It is a festival with floats, costumes, and participants bombing one another with balls filled with colour and water balloons.


This festival is held on the river island of Divar on the 4th Saturday of the month of August. Bonderam means the festival of flags. Its high point is a mock battle to commemorate the property wars that took place here over a century ago. Peashooters abound, and the girls will shoot at the boys they fancy.


The feast of St. John the Baptist is celebrated around 24th June at the height of the monsoon, usually when the wells are full of water The men and often kids go around with wreaths of leaves on their heads and jump into every well in the Vaddo (neighbourhood ward), and these days swimming pools too, to commemorate the leap of the Saint in his mother’s womb.

Chavath or Ganesh Chathurthi

The tradition of Ganesh Chaturthi or Chavath goes back to the times when there were only Dravidian settlements in Goa. Lord Ganesh ushers in the bounties of nature in the form of local fruit and vegetables and hence these adorn the matoli or sacred canopy with a clay idol of the lovable elephant god. Families come together over ritual feasts in which nevryos (crescent shaped pastries with coconut fillings) are mandatory. Some temples in Goa have chariots that are carried on shoulders by devotees while others have chariots that are pulled on wheels. Unlike as in other places it is very much a family festival celebrated in homes, ending when the people carry the Ganpatis to the nearby beach, stream or river by night to the chants Ganpati Bappa Morya, devotional singing and fireworks.


This festival stretches over nine days that culminate in the burning of the effigy of Ravana who symbolizes evil. Large crowds gather in Canacona in the south to watch the taranga or parasol dances that symbolize ploys to muzzle evil spirits..


This festival of lights is celebrated in Goa with the burning of giant effigies of the demon Narkasur. Narkasur is supposed to have been the demon from hell that had held 16000 virgins captive. The burning of his effigy is symbolic of the triumph of virtue over evil. Paper lamps decorate streets and homes.


Church bells, carol singing and high mass at midnight herald this festival that celebrates the birth of Jesus. Greetings and trays of bebinca, dodol and doce are exchanged. Children compete for prizes in crib contests and paper stars decorate Christian homes and village streets. And of course after the midnight mass the many village and town dances, where Goans will put on their best suits and dresses, and jive, rock n roll tango and hip hop into the night, often to some surprisingly good bands.

And speaking of dancing, we love to dance. Go to a Christian wedding and you’ll see lots of ballroom and Latin dancing, and some fancy footwork .

Here are some of our other Dances of Goa


The Goan dhalo takes its name from the Konkani word dholop “to sway”. The women form two rows and sing and “play” in a mock battle filled with insults and taunts that include members of the audience.

Mussol Khel

This is a Kshatriya (warrior) dance that enacts the victory of the Vijaynagara Prince Harihara over a Bahamani general from the Deccan. The artistes are actually Christian Kshatriya converts of the village dressed in dhotis and jackets.


During the Shigmo festival at the village temple courtyard, men in garlands and wearing the traditional pudvim or dhoti dance to the drum beats of the dhol, taso and kasale.


Ghodemoddni or the breaking in of the horse is an obviously martial art form. It’s performed in Thane-Sattari, Sarvan-Bicholim and Canacona and has been brought into Goa by the Ranes of Sattari.

Tonya mel

This dance is also an all-male performance with the dancers carrying sticks.


The corridinho is a graceful Portuguese dance, from the Algarve. It’s danced with the colourfully dressed couples always embraced, forming a circle, girls inside and the boys outside.

Kunbi dance

Kunbis, the earliest settlers of Goa, are a sturdy tribal community mostly settled in Salcete Taluka, who though converted to Christianity, still retains the most ancient folk tradition of the land. Their songs and dance belonging to the pre-Portuguese era are uniquely social and not religious. The fast and elegant dance by a group of Kunbi women dancers, wearing traditional very simple dresses, is a colourful sight.

Lamp Dance

The dancers sway in slow folk rhythms , balancing brass lamps with burning wicks on head and the hands. Accompanied by the sounds of the Ghumat, Samael, Cymbal and Harmonium, at night its quite a sight.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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