The state of Goa may be geographically small, but it is rich in diverse culture, and this is largely reflected in its festivals. Due to the influence of the Portuguese rule, many of our festivals have taken a different turn, and in many ways, reflect syncretic celebrations as it brings the two main religious communities of Goa, ie Hindus and Catholics, together.
The best example of this is the Siolim Zagor festival, which is held on the day after Siolim’s Feast of Nossa Senhora de Guia, on the first Monday after Christmas. The other festival that comes to mind is the Intruz festival.
The word, ‘Intruz’, which also refers to Carnival, is celebrated by the Catholic community in Goa. But, in the small village, called Dongrim near Old Goa, in North Goa, it is celebrated by the Hindu community, as well.
Varun Hegde of Soul Travelling, which explores the art and culture of Goa through walks and experiences, mentions, “At Soul Travelling, we want to focus on festivals, which are not very well-known or promoted, like the festivals around Shigmo or Bonderam, etc. We are now restarting our festival walks, after a gap of one and a half years (due to the pandemic) with the Intruz festival. I believe that not many Goans are aware of this festival.”
Soul Travelling will conduct a walk on February 22, 2022 so that patrons can experience the uniqueness of the festival for themselves.
Hegde further explains that this festival is celebrated by the Hindus of the village, and they were banned from celebrating their local festival, ie Shigmo, during the Portuguese rule. So, the villagers obtained permission to celebrate Intruz instead, and thus, this is the only village in Goa where Hindus celebrate this festival, which is usually held around the time of Carnival in Goa, and a month or so, before the Shigmo festival.
Intruz festival is held for, not one day, but five days, and villagers of five different mandaps, or groups, of Dongrim village come together. It usually starts on a Friday, where village members of five mandaps hold a procession. “This procession is called Fatya Suvari, where the procession by members of all five mandaps, with a Chatri (sacred umbrella) is held. It culminates at the main Intruz mahal, or hall,” says Saheel Wagh, a native of Dongrim village.
The highlight of the festival is the music, which is locally known as Suvari vadan, with musical performances on traditional instruments such as dhol, taaso, ghumot, etc. There are even plays on Sunday and Tuesday night, which are performed by the locals.
On Sunday, the village witnesses the feast of Our Lady of Assumption. Even though it is not officially part of the Intruz festival, it brings all the villagers together. “It is not actually a part of Intruz, but at this feast, there is a lot of mingling of both communities,” explains Wagh.
For five days, various religious events are held. On Monday night, there is a procession of goddess Shantadurga — the main deity of the village. Wagh, further, informs that Tuesday is the main day, where the procession of Chatri, along with Suvari vadan is held, and where people from different parts of Goa visit this festival.
“It is the main day of the festival, and begins around 4 pm. On other days, the procession starts after 10 pm. On this day, a special dinner is cooked in every household, and guests are welcomed and served traditional fare such as Shirvoyo, Mooga Gathi, Godshe (sweet dish), and most importantly, dishes made from chicken and fish,” elaborates Wagh. All this gives the village a celebratory look with a festive meal.
The festival culminates on Wednesday by smearing of gulal on each other. It starts early in the morning with this tradition, and this, represents the end of the festival. “The first gulal festival of the season (before the Holi festival), thus, happens from the Dongrim village,” informs Wagh.
So, if you want to experience a real Goan festival, head to the village of Dongrim on February 22, 2022 and be a part of the festivities!
If you’re interested in catching a glimpse of the ‘Intruz’ procession in Dongrim village, on February 22, 2022, contact Soul Travelling on +919529490245