Culture of Goa
Goa is a union territory, which is called as the Rome of East. This region was under the control of numerous rulers including French and British governance. This is why Goa is a land of unique culture and interesting heritage. Goa is very unique when compared to the rest of the regions in India. The land spikes with entertainment and western culture. If you are looking for a European vacation in India, it is time to visit Goa. Goa’s culture is the main attraction, which adds more spice to your vacation. Here is everything you need to know about the culture of Goa.
According to ancient Hindu mythology, Goa is linked with Dasavathar of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu in his Parasurama birth created the region of Goa. He won the war against the warrior caste, Kshatriyas and declared Goa as the land of Brahmins. Since then to the 14th century, Goa had been a major Hindu religious site. At the beginning of the 14th century, Islamic invaders took control of Goa but, did not rule it for long. Since Goa was a port region, it attracted the Vijayanagar reign to take control of the area at the end of the 14th century. During the peak of Vijayanagar reign’s prosperity, Goa and its coastal areas were used by merchants to import Arabian horses from the Middle East.
At the beginning of the 16th century, European forces started to reach India and it was not long before Goa was under the control of Portuguese and in the same year, Christianity missionaries led by Saint Francis Xavier entered India. His earthly remains are preserved in Basilica of Bom Jesus and it is displayed every decade. Goa was under the control of Portuguese for 4 centuries and more. During this time, the Goan culture disintegrated to adapt to western culture and a unique lifestyle was born. By the end of 1961, the Indian Army took entire control of Goa and the Portuguese left the country. The Goan population did not want themselves to be added to Maharashtra and thus, they were declared as a union territory.
Get Complete Info : About Goa History
Goa is a secular state with numerous religions being practiced freely. Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity are the top religions here. The majority of the population follows Hinduism. There is a small 0.1% of Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs living in this region. Ancient Goa was a Hindu region. During the rule of Portuguese, Christianity was imposed on the population. Roman Catholic was very common during the rule of Portuguese. Many churches were built in Renaissance styled architecture in Goa. You can also find a few mosques around the region. Today, all the religions are thriving in harmony in Goa.
Goa is famous for its Indo-Latin festivals, carnivals, and fiesta. If you are looking for a European styled celebration, Goa is the right place to visit. On the other hand, traditional Hindu festivals are also common here. Top festivals to enjoy here are Easter, Diwali, Christmas, GaneshChaturthi, Goa carnival, Feast of St. Francis Xavier and others.Apart from religious festivals, Goa is the land, where festivals for music, dance, and other cultural elements are conducted.
Top festivals to enjoy in Goa are:
- Shantadurga – January festival related to Goddess Shantadurga. Festival is famous for the procession, five-day fair, and many cultural activities
- Republic Day – Patriotic celebration
- Wine Festival – Since 2005, Panjim is celebrating the wine festival in January with grape stomping tradition, wine tasting and much more.
- MahaShivratri – A Hindu religious festival dedicated to Lord Shiva. Devotees keep themselves awake throughout the night and perform rituals to Lord Shiva.
- Goa Carnival – This three-day carnival takes place in Panjim. You can find processions of live bands floats and much more. This is India’s Mardi gras.
- Holi – Traditional India festival of color celebrated to welcome the spring. Many temples of Goa will be decorative and colorful during this festival.
- Shigmo – This is a regional Hindu festival celebrated for 15 days with colorful activities, cultural performances and so on.
- Easter – Christian festival celebrated with zeal in Old Goa regions
- Diwali – Five-day Hindu celebration with crackers, sweets and earthen lamps.
- International Film Festival – the Indian version of the Canne Film Festival during which actors, directors, and others flock the place.
- Feast of St. Francis Xavier – Nine-day festival celebrating the life and work of St. Francis Xavier with feast and other celebrations
- Christmas – Holy Christian celebration with Christmas tree, feasts, Santa Claus and much more.
Festivals are the best time to visit and explore Goa in its most cultural form. Locals appreciate tourists joining with them for celebrating their festivals.
Rice with seafood dishes are the staple food of the region. Top fish species available in the menu are ladyfish, lobster, tiger prawn, squid, and others. Coconut is found in abundance here and thus, coconut oil is the basic lubricant used in cooking. Spices grow in lush in this region. Thus, the cuisine has a rich spice palate. Vinegar is used in abundance, which is quite contrasting to other Indian cuisines. This gives a unique taste to Goan cuisine. Iconic beverage of this region is cashew wine, which is made from fermentation of cashew fruit. Goan cuisine is a mixture of Portuguese, Konkani, and Brazillian cuisine. Most of the traditional dishes are grilled and a generous amount of garlic is added to the dishes. Top dishes to try in Goa are:
- Pork Vindaloo – pork dish flavored with spices and vinegar
- Goa sausages – sausage made with pork infused with spices
- Chicken cafreal – grilled meat dish flavored with green chilies, spices, and peppercorns
- Chicken/prawn/vegetable Xacuti – creamy dish made with poppy seeds, chilies, ground coconut, and others
- Fish/ vegetable Caldine – yellowish mild Goa fish or vegetable curry
- Feijoada – Portuguese styled beef and bean stew
- Doce – coconut chickpea dessert
- Dodol – Christmas cake made with cane sugar, coconut milk, cashew, and rice flour
- Bebinca – coconut milk and sugar flavored multi-layered cake
You would be familiar with Goa’s connection with alcohols but, if you are looking for some non-alcoholic drinks, top things to try are:
- Lime soda – lime flavored soda spiked with sugar or salt or both
- Kokum juice – Juice from a local exotic fruit, kokum, service with salt, sugar or both
- Tender coconut water
- Sugar cane juice spiked with a small amount of ginger
Konkani is the major language in this region. Almost all Goans can understand and speak Konkani. Apart from Konkani; Marathi and Hindi are quite common. Konkani was derived from the ancient language of Indo-Aryan civilization. The languages spoken by different communities in this region vary from each other. The Christian communities speak Konkan with a lot of influence from Portuguese vocabulary. Those who live in Northern Goa will have a greater accent of Marathi and Hindi, because of the proximity to Mumbai. Apart from this, English is a common language here.
Goa has a small population of 1.4 million people. However, this hasn’t stopped the region from producing quality literary works. Did you know that Goa is the first Asian destination to have a working printing press? It was brought into the region in the 16th century but, it was destroyed during colonial wars. You can find Goa literature in almost 13 languages. The top languages of work are Portuguese, English, Konkani, and Marathi. The first novel from Goa was published in the 19th century by Francisco Luis Gomes. If you are looking for some books to enlighten you in Konkani literature, visit Goa University Library, Goa State Central Library, and others. Since 2010, Goa has been organizing GALF (Goa Arts and Literary Festival). This festival is celebrated for three days and it includes discussions, lectures, debates, and displays of art, photography,music, and others.
Goan culture gives more importance to theater performance arts. Dashavatar and Kalo are the most performed art in theatre stages. Tiatr is another common art form in this genre.
- Konkani Cinema - Konkani cinema might not be as famous as Bollywood but, it is of cultural importance. In 2018, the Konkani cinema celebrated its centennial and has released 145 films. The first Konkani film was made in 1949 but, it was never released. The first released movie was MogachoAnvddo in 1950.
Recommended Goa Tours
Dance And Music
The traditional music styles of Goa are Dulpod and Mando. Hinduism population of Goa enjoys Kirtan, Natak and Bhajan styled music too. Many renowned classical singers of the country were from Goa like Jitendra Abhisheki, Kishori Amonkar, Prabhakar Karekar, and others. The traditional dance forms of the land are Fugdi, Deknni, Dashavtara, Corridinho, and others. Western-style of singing, dance and other cultural activities are very common among the population.
This is a folk dance form, which is performed as the dance of warriors. The dancers carry a sword and wear armors to show their bravery. For this dance form, the background music is usually Tasha and Dhol.
Mando is a common music version, which is usually in the romantic genre. This folk style starts with a sand tune and ends with a happy rhythm (Duldop). This music style is a mixture of Konkani music and Portuguese style.
This is a song-dance performance. The dance form is Indian originated and the music is western. This is a feminine dance form, which is famous in cinemas.
Goff Talgadi and Shigmo
These two are folk dances, which are performed to welcome spring. This is a festive styled dance form performed by farmers. Talgadi dances have a small stick in their hand, which they beat as per the rhythm of the song. It is quite similar to Gujarat’s dandiya dance.Shigmo dancers wear colorful dresses and the dance style has many beats.
This is the folk dance form of shepherds. This dance is backgrounded with flute music. These dances are dedicated to Krishna and Radha (Hindu mythological love couples).
This is a song-dance that is done to praise the bravery and power of kings. This dance can be seen on the full moon day of Falguna month. According to history, this dance was performed by Cholas, when Vijayanagar Harihar defeated them.
This folk dance is performed by Christian Gawdas. The theme of this dance is usually the origin of the universe.
This dance is performed by dancers while holding a lamp on their heads with balance. This dance form is common during the Shigmo festival. The music for this dance is mainly instrumental. This dance is quite common in the central and southern parts of Goa.
Apart from these, you can find Kunbi song, Veer Bhadra, Fugdi and Dhalo, Romat, Suvari, Morulem, Tonyamel, and others.
Goan craftworks are more colorful and nature-based than many states of the country. Just like any other region in India, Goan crafts are unique and interesting. There are numerous flea markets, street shops and malls in Goa where you can find craftworks of varying kinds. Starting from lacquer work to bamboo toys, you can find souvenirs for all ages.
The top forms of craftwork items of this region are jute articles, bamboo articles, brass statues, wood articles, Papier-Mache, embroidery, coconut shell articles, and others. If you are looking for some decorative items for your home, pottery works, and terracotta items are common in the markets. Starting from flower pot to ashtray, you can find numerous products. If you are looking for metal works, brass and copper crafts are of top importance here. Do you know that many families in Goa consider metal casting articles as an heirloom? The articles are passed on from one generation to another. Starting from church bells to oil lamps, you can find articles of varying styles and for different religions too.
Also Read : What to Shop in Goa
Goa is an important destination for numerous types of vacations including an adrenaline gushing adventure time. With miles and miles of coastline, you can find almost all kinds of water activities here. Goa is also rich with land-based natural resources like forest regions, spice plantations, and others. Thus, dry land adventure activities are also common here. During the tourism season, you can find numerous exotic activities like hot air ballooning, ATV biking and others.
Top adventure activities to enjoy in Goa are:
- Scuba Diving And Snorkeling – Grande Island, Pigeon Island, Angria Bank, and others.
- Parasailing – Baga beach, Dona Paula, Arambol Beach, and Mobor
- Trekking Or Hiking – Netravali wildlife sanctuary, Mollen National park, Todo waterfalls, Dudhsagar waterfalls, Collem, UddanDongor, and others.
- Kneeboarding – Candolim, Mobor, Rajbaga, and others UddanDongor
- Windsurfing – Miramar, Palolem, Dona Paula, Vagator, Bogmalo and others
- Water Skiing – Arossim, Mobor, Baga, Utorda, Calangute, and others
- Water Scooters – Cidade de Goa, Candolim beach, Calangute, Dona Paula, and others.
- Water Rafting – Sattari
- Kite Surfing – Arambol Beach, Mondego Bay, Morjim and others.
- River Cruise – Mandovi River
- Camping – Around Palolem, Dudhsagar waterfalls and others
- Aqua Zorbing – Mayem Lake and major resorts
- Banana Boat Rides – Baga beach, Palolem beach, Anjuna, Agonda, Miramar, Calangute, and others.
- Kayaking – Dona Paula jetty, Zuari backwaters, Nerul River, Hollant Beach, Mandovi backwaters and others
- Hot Air Ballooning – Chandor, Asolda Ground and other places in South Goa
- ATV Biking – Ponda, Anjuna and others
The best time to visit Goa for adventure activities is during the cool and dry season. For adventure time, visit between October and March.
Goan people are more interested in Football, which is unique because the other parts of India are addicted to cricket. Other common sports you find in Goa are swimming, chess, basketball, fishing, and others. Bullfighting is one of the traditional sports of Goa.
The traditional wear of the Goan population has a lot of influence from Western culture. The Koli fishermen dress in half-pants and bright shirts. Tribal communities wear loincloths with a thick blanket on their shoulders. The modern population has adapted western wear. Most of the womenfolk wear 9-yard sarees or skirts. Traditional jewelry is worn by women.
Also Read : What to Wear in Goa
Since it is a coastal area, many communities have fishing as their main occupation. The fertile regions of Goa have many farmers. Top crops cultivated in this region are paddy, banana, pulses, cashew, mango, coconut, ragi, pineapple, maize, jackfruit, and others.A major part of the population has indulged in the tourism industry due to the increasing number of tourists. Apart from these, with the development of the IT field, you can find computer-based workers in every nook and corner of Goa.
The northern part of Goa is famous for its nightlife. There are numerous beaches, shacks, and nightclubs to enjoy partying, dancing, booze, music and much more. The southern part of Goa is famous for romantic vacation with a laid-back ambiance.
Many high-end restaurants have evening-specials with music bands, performance arts and more. Some beach restaurants also offer bonfire and other activities.
Every bar in Goa is open way beyond midnight. Starting from signature fancy cocktail to mugs of beer, the bars would shower you with alcohol throughout the night.
If you are looking for a little more than drinking, the next level is partying on the dance floor, lively dancers and much more. There are different genres of nightclubs around the region and it is best to stick with licensed ones.
Goa is the party destination of India. If you are looking for a western culture and non-stop nightlife, Goa is the right place to go. Starting from nightclubs to the casino, this provides the mirage of Las Vegas in India. Apart from this, the region has 31 different beaches, which are famous for numerous recreational water activities. Goa is a land rich with nature and culture. If you are looking for some luxury time, you can choose to enjoy beach resort vacation and surf islands around this region. Goa is the land for pilgrimage activities, romantic time, nature adventure, water activities, cultural vacation and much more. Top tourist sites in Goa are Chapora Fort, State Museum of Goa, Dona Paula, Manguesi Temple, Chapora Lake, Anjuna Beach, Basilica of Bom Jesus, Dudhsagar waterfall, Vagator, Candolim beach, Baga beach, and others.
No amount of flowery phrases can explain the beauty and vividness of the region. The best way to bask in the culture is to visit the region.