Fairs and Festivals of Goa
Shigmotsav or Shigmo
It is a grand
five-day festival of colors, celebrated distinctively in the
villages, corresponding with Holi or Spring Festival. Held for
one-week up to the full-moon day in March, Shigmo is universally
celebrated in Goa, but especially at Panaji, Mapusa, Vasco-da-Gama
Also referred as parade of the horse riders is a part of Shigmo and is found in Fatorpa and Bicholim. Hypnotic and rhythmic music of drums and shistles accompany the martial dance, which parades down the main street, imitating horses and their riders.
It takes place on the second and third day of Shigmo. It is a procession of men in traditional dress carrying banners and umbrellas, dancing to the music of drums. Young boys wave green twigs, signifying the arrival of spring.
It is celebrated at Sri Mahalakshmi Temple at Panaji, and during the nine days preceding the full moon, at Sri Vithal Temple in Sanquelim. It is also widely celebrated at Nagueshi, Chandranath, Cudnem and Mashem in Canacona.
This is homecoming season for many Goans settled away from Goa. It is also the fruit season and Feni-making season. A distinctive Goan aperitif, Feni comes from cashew apples. In addition it is toddy-tapping season.
Gokul Ashtami or Janamashtami
It is the Birthday of Lord Krishna. This marks the beginning of Goa’s harvest festival. At Narve village in Bicholim, people gather for pilgrimage from far and wide.
It is the
Birthday of Lord Ganesh, the most important deity in the Konkan, and
is celebrated all over Goa. Thousands return to Goa for this
festival, which is associated with a good harvest.
In each village, the first offering is made to the church and the paddy specially blessed. The crop is offered in a ceremony called ‘Novidade’ in which the parish priest himself harvests a sheaf of rice and returns with it to the Church. Local people accompany him with music, fire-works and jubilation. It is a true feast day for all. Women folk of Goa’s earliest tribal settlers perform a dance called Bhandup in the second half of the month.
It is the nine nights festival associated with Lord Rama’s defeat of Ravana, demon-king of Lanka, culminates in the grand festival of Dussehra. Dussehra is celebrated by devotees of the Mother Goddess as her festival. The Sri Bhagavati Temple in Pernem has a fortnight’s festivities on the occasion. Special celebrations for Navaratra Utsav are held at Shantadurga, Nagueshi, Mahalakshmi and Ramnath Temples at Ponda and at Kalika Devi Temples in Kasarpal. The Dhangar Dance is a dance of worship performed during this festival.
Saptah at Vasco
The port town of Vasco is the scene of perhaps the biggest festival in Goa in terms of sheer number of vendor stalls, the crowds and the duration of its celebration. The word Saptah literally means seven days and the festival actually lasts for a week, although the stalls selling various items linger on for more than fifteen days. The festival which is more than a hundred years old, is celebrated in the temple of Lord Damodar in the centre of the city.
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