Want to get a feel of a village ‘Shigmo’ in Goa? Look no further!

‘Shigmo’ celebrations in the villages of Goa are brimming with age-old rituals, prayers and plenty of fascinating dance forms.
Villagers perform a folk dance in front of people's homes during Shigmo

Villagers perform a folk dance in front of people's homes during Shigmo


As the seasons change, in Goa, from winter to spring, various festivals are held in different parts of the state, the most prominent being the Shigmo festival, which is held in almost every village in Goa.

This festival, which is very much steeped in ritualistic traditions, coincides with the pan-Indian Holi festival. While Holi is a major festival in other parts of the country, in Goa, it is Shigmo.


In the book, Goa: Folklore Studies, the author, Dr Pandurang Phaldesai, an expert in Goa’s folk traditions, mentions, “During spring season, there is a profusion of flowers and fruits, which creates the right atmosphere for the celebrations of Shigmo. It happens before the farming community takes up their pre-monsoon agricultural preparations. This is the time set aside to pay their respects to Mother Nature, especially the village goddesses.”

The Shigmo festival starts just a few days before the Holi festival in the villages of South Goa, and after the Holi festival in different villages of North Goa. It is usually held for five days, and included the presentation of various folk art forms.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Villagers perform&nbsp; folk dance in the front of people's homes in the village</p></div>

Villagers perform  folk dance in the front of people's homes in the village


However, these days, when we think of the Shigmo festival, we usually imagine colourful processions of folk dances, parades and tableaux that speak about a mythological story, which are crowd pullers; held in different cities and towns of Goa. Interestingly, this concept is around 40-years-old, where the main elements from the village Shigmo are presented.

The real Shigmo is held in Goan villages, in the front yards of homes.


Phaldesai, in his book, further informs, “There are groups of dancers and musicians, known as the mel. The mel begins the performance with the invocation to the mandaguru and the main deity, and then to the subordinate deities of the village. This invocation is known as naman. After the naman, the mel proceeds to the main temple, where a short performance takes place. After accepting the prasad (oblation) from the temple, the mel moves from house to house in the village.”

It is an auspicious time for the villagers as they gather to seek blessings, followed by witnessing the dance form.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Villagers seeking blessings of the deity during Shigmo</p></div>

Villagers seeking blessings of the deity during Shigmo


The interesting aspect of this dance performance is that it is performed only by male members. Thus, it brings men from different age groups together, to perform to the beat of ghumat, dhol, cymbals, etc. Sometimes, the dancers also use wooden sticks, known as tonyo. Here, after the dance performance of the me,l they are offered coconuts and rice grains by the householders.

The dances, which are part of this tradition are Tonya Mel, Talgadi, Goff, to name a few.

Curious to experience this festival? Then, join a trail on March 15, 2022 at Canacona, organised by Exclamations Goa, in collaboration with Yugantar Goa. This trail will include a visit to Mallikarjun Temple (the epicentre of Canacona Shigmotsav), a visit to Vetal idol at Loliem, a local house and the experience of the local Shigmo performance that goes from one house to another.

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<div class="paragraphs"><p>Villagers perform a folk dance in front of people's homes during Shigmo</p></div>
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