Goa without festivals is simply monotonous. And, it is these festivals that make Goa lively every year. People eagerly look forward to celebrating these festivals irrespective of caste, religion and economic status. Goans come together and celebrate these festivals in harmony.
If you're looking forward to catching a glimpse of these festivals that not only showcase Goa's culture but highlight communal harmony, then you shouldn't miss these festivals: Holi, Shigmo, Sheni Uzzo, Durig and Gudi Padwa.
Each of these festivals has its charm and mystique of their own.
The festival of Holi is considered an essential part of the Shigmo festival in Goa. It takes place either on a full moon or any other day of Falgun. Holi is the symbolic burning of the she-devil Holika.
On this day, you will find people bringing a long trunk of the areca nut tree or any other tree, erecting it in the middle of the courtyard and later burning it. A few stones are placed under it with grass spread at the bottom. After the ritual the grass at the bottom is set on fire and then extinguished.
The villagers then break a coconut by hitting the stones lying at the bottom of the burnt trunk. In Goa, Holi is celebrated with just a symbolic fire where dry grass is set on fire.
However, in recent times the scenario is changed, and with the influence of Bollywood, you can find people applying and throwing colour at each other. In today's time, you will find Holi parties happening in Goa on a large scale.
Considered to be a spring festival of Goa, Shigmo is celebrated with great pomp and splendor by the people of Goa. It takes place in the Phalguna month of the Hindu calendar.
The term "Shigmo" is derived from the Konkani word "Suggimaha" and Sanskrit word "Sugrishmaka".
You can find celebrations taking place for over 14 days in the state. During the festival, there are several parades that take place in the state. People dance to the rhythm of traditional music.
Goa has two types of Shigmo celebrations: dhakto Shigmo (small Shigmo) and vhoddlo Shigmo (big Shigmo).
The significance of this festival is depicted through the colours, dance and music, and also the well-lit colourful float parades in the state. Shigmo is the festival of the common people in Goa.
DETAILS OF THE PARADE
1. March 8 - Ponda
2. March 9 - Calangute
3. March 10 - Sankhali/ Bicholim
4. March 11- Panjim
5. March 12- Porvorim
6. March 13- Mapusa
7. March 14- Pernem/ Valpoi
8. March 15- Sanguem
9. March 16- Curchorem/ Quepem
10. March 17- Vasco
11. March 18- Margao
12. March 19- Shiroda
13. March 20- Cuncolim
14. March 21- Canacona
3. SHENI UZZO
The interesting local tradition Sheni Uzzo, which takes place in Molcornem village of Quepem taluka, is not to be missed.
"Sheni" means dried cakes of cow dung. In earlier times, in rural villages these were used as fuel. The women of village would prepare these cakes of fresh dung and dry them in the sun. Slowly, they discovered that these cakes could be used to light a fire, and they would burn like a frankincense-stick without a flame.
In Molcornem, on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Falgun, people perform Sheni Uzzo. After midnight the villagers cut down three grown areca nut trees. They carry these trunks to a stipulated place, and the villagers perform a ritual dance holding these trunks on their shoulders.
This performance includes forming different patterns with adept footwork. After this dance, anybody who wishes to participate in Sheni Uzzo, holds a burning cake in one hand and a bough in the other hand. He then visits every village temple and showers emanating sparks on the deity.
The devotees come back to the spot where they had danced with the tree trunks. Here, they start dancing with sheni in their hands, virtually bathing in the sparks. Once this dance comes to an end, the annual ritual of Holi is performed.
The ritual dance reaches its zenith when a few selected villagers walk on the heap of burning sheni and shower themselves with sparks. There is an established order in this, and those enjoying traditional privilege are followed by the other devotees. Some people climb up the holy trunk and others shower sheni on each other.
Durig, is another unique folk festival that takes place in Shigao, Kule, at the Rangayi Shantadurga Temple.
The main ritual of this festival consists of felling a fully grown silk cotton tree, measuring about 40 feet tall, burying it with elaborate rituals, and then climbing it with great acrobatic skills to recover a sacred coconut placed on top of it.
The trunk is tied with a creeper of gulvel found in the forest, which is then take to the temple where the main ritual takes place.
The task of lugging this huge trunk is done manually and not with the help of any machinery. The locals who are not part of the village are spared from this hard work.
Once the trunk is brought into the temple courtyard, the old trunk that was buried last year is dug up and cut into pieces. The wood is meant for the use of the temple only, and no one else is allowed to use this wood for domestic consumption.
A sufficiently deep pit is dug for the newly brought trunk. Villagers use extraordinary skills to ensure this trunk stands properly in the pit. This trunk is called durig.
After pooja is performed, a garland, mango leaves and a coconut is tied to the top of the durig and a rope is left to dangle from the top. Few villagers climb this durig and perform pooja.
A man climbs the top of the durig (with the help of this rope), and from there, pulls up buckets full of water from the ground. He pours this water profusely on the trunk. As a result, the trunk become slippery, making it difficult for anyone to climb it easily. The music begins, and the youths and elders start their attempts to scale this trunk.
In the end, someone from one of the competing groups succeeds in reaching the top of this durig, recovers the coconut and slides down. The hero, who has to be from a ganvkar family, a dindo - an unmarried youth - who successfully recovers the coconut is considered a chor (thief) and is permitted to go on a stealing spree with impunity.
5. GUDI PADWA
Gudi Padwa is the New Year of the Hindu community in Goa. It is believed to be the day when Brahma recreated the world after massive destruction.
Interestingly, on this day, you can find gudi being erected outside homes. The gudi consist of a silver or gold vessel that is placed upturned on a wooden stick and decorated with saffron cloth along with mango leaves.
Women decorate the entrance with a colourful rangoli and prepare a variety of vegetarian food, which include puri, kheer and puran polis.
Gudi Padwa is believed to the best time to begin any new venture, whether it be business, marriage or house construction.
This festival is celebrated all over Goa. There are related traditional folk dances performed in Gaondongri, Sanguem and Sattari that one can attend.