Culture of Goa

Dances of Goa


Dashavatara term refers to the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu ('Das' means ten, 'Avatar' means incarnations). The subject of the theft of the 'Vedas' is discussed by the "Sutradhar" (stage manager), 'Brahmin' figures, women actors representing the rivers, actors playing Lord Brahma (the Creator) and Goddess Saraswati (the goddess of learning), and the demon Shankhasur. The red and white makeup of Dashavatara actors distinguishes them from the spectators who arrive shortly before 11.00 pm for the performance. The evening commences with prayers to Ganapati or Ganesha (the elephant-headed god), sung by the Sutradhar (stage manager).


Kunbi Dance

Kunbis, the earliest settlers of Goa, are a sturdy tribal community mostly settled in Salcete Taluka,  retain the most ancient folk tradition of the land. Their songs and dance belonging to the pre-Portuguese era. The fast and elegant dance by a group of Kunbi women dancers, wearing traditional yet very simple dresses, lends a colourful touch to this ethnic art form.

Lamp Dance

This dance derives its name from brass lamps used in the dance during the Shigmo festival. The accompanying instruments include Ghumat, Samael, Cymbal and Harmonium. The performers indulge in a slow dancing movement, balancing brass lamps with burning wicks on the head and the hands. The balancing act controlled by tremendous self-discipline and exquisite footwork matching with the rhythms of the traditional folksongs are eye-catching. This group dance is popular in the southern and central Goa.

Mussal Dance

The Kshatriyas, the warrior class of 'Chandor' (erstwhile Chandrapur, the capital of the "Kadamba" rulers) perform this dance-cum-song to celebrate the victory of Harihar, the Hindu King of Vijaynagar over the Cholas in the early 14th century. They hold and brandish pestles ('Mussals') - a favourite war instrument with the Yadavas - during the victory parade and dance as the original one held centuries ago.  The march comprises 4 couplets while the main dance uses 22 couplets. Originally the Gaonkars did the performance on the full-moon night of the Falguna. The Kshatriyas perform it now on the second day of the carnival.

Romat Dance

This thanks-giving ceremonial dance-cum-procession performed during the Shigmo festival is known as Romat in the northern Goa and Mell in the central Goa. It is an extremely crowded, noisy and colourful affair. Teams of dancers drawn from different sections of the village dance and march martially with huge banners, ceremonial umbrellas, festooned sticks and batons towards the temple of the presiding deity or to the house of the landlord.

Crafts of Goa

Pottery and Terracota

Goa earthenware with its deep rich red, velvety surface, has a charm and style of its own. Apart from a large variety of domestic ware which includes attractive water and flower pots, a wide range of figures and panels are also made. These are more in the nature of sculpture like an old man or woman, mother with a child or two children playing, and a variety of such themes. The panels also draw themes from religious or historical themes. Borde and Bicholim are two famous centres of earthenware; though pottery is made all over Goa.


Goa has a good tradition in wood carving. After the advent of the Portuguese, this talent was turned largely to superb quality furniture made in Western style produced mainly to be exported to other countries. The designs used are however purely floral, animal and human figures that are oriental in nature. Main places of production are Verem, Bardez and Cuncolim.

Brass and Metal Craft

Goa is famous for its brass items, especially samais. The craft has established traditional market since long past. It is customary in Goa that at the time of marriage the parents of Brides present a set of metalware like kalsa, kalshi, puncharati, ekarati etc. While utensils of utility are made of sheet metal (copper), brass metal casting is a craft passed on from one generation to another practiced on hereditary basis. The items produced include oil lamps in various designs, candle stands, temple towers, church bells, ashtrays, etc.

Crochet and Embroidery

Crochet has a traditional mark in Goa since ages. At the time of marriage, a few pieces of embroidered linen and crochet are given to the bride as part of dowry. It is customery in Goa with both, Christians and Hindus to display before the guests the crochet and embroidery items the bride has brought with her at the time of marriage. This perhaps is to demostrate the skill of the bride in crochet and embroidery work. The craft of crocet and embroidery is thus passed on from one generation to another, improving in the quality and design from time to time. The items produced includes hankies, table clothes, children and ladies garmets, lioow and cusion covers and bed spreads etc.

Bamboo Craft

Bamboo craft is one of the traditional crafts of Goa and practiced in almost all parts of the state.  Initially they produced utility items required by farmers and fishermen for drying and storing of food grains and selling fish, etc. The range of items produced during that time and still in use in villages include "patlo" (baskets), "valli" (used for washing rice and grains), "supli" (for cleaning rice), mats in different sizes (used also as shades for windows for protection against rain and sunlight) and "dali" (most important item for farmers for drying food grains; can be used as floor as floor coverings also). The latest trend in designs which include both decorative and utility item is the outcome of new techniques introduced in the training imparted both by the state and central government agencies at different times. The new items introduced in the market include different types of flower baskets, flower pots, letter holders, pen stands, fans, etc. 


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