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Category Archives: Festivals

Christmas in Goa

Christmas in Goa

Christmas Time in Goa 


Goa is among those eminent destinations that are found in full bloom during Christmas. Goa stands as the most accurate place for witnessing the vibrant Christmas celebrations. Being a part of Goa during this time of the year will surely make your Christmas the most cherished one of your life.

Christmas in Goa is one of the most important festivals that are celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm. Like elsewhere in the world, December 25 is celebrated in Goa too as the nativity of Jesus Christ with traditional joy and gaiety. People from all the communities in Goa join hands to celebrate the festival.


Christmas Crib in Goa

Christmas celebrations in Goa include exchanging gifts and offering prayers. The nativity scene is evoked by creating clay statues and artefacts made up of millet grass, box board and hay. Statues form an important part of the Christmas festival and it is reminiscent of the birth of Jesus in the stable of Bethlehem. 

A village group along with many children with one among them dressed as Santa go Christmas serenading with a box to raise funds. These funds are normally contributed towards a meal for the poor, orphans or even a small party for the people of the ward. Live cribs with carol singing make rounds in villages. People from all religious communities in Goa take part in the festivities of Christmas. Programs are held at the different parishes in Goa during the Christmas week. The village youth make huge cribs on the community ground or even in fields.

There are a host of local sweets of which the most popular are Neureos, (stuffed dry fruit and coconut rounds), Dodol (coconut and cashew squares) Aranhas (coconut nest which is strips of tender coconut dipped in sugar and put like a birds nest on to decorative butter paper) Doce, Bolina and Bebinca. These sweets are traditionally made at home and sent in little decorative baskets to relatives and friends during the Christmas week. Click Here To know how to prepare few of the Christmas Sweets Recipes.

Dancing and parties form an inevitable part of Christmas in Goa. During the festival, the people dress themselves in the finest of their clothes. People decorate their houses with buntings, streamers, bobbles, tinsel, colourful papers, poinsettias, etc. The Christmas trees are decorated with beautiful items such as candies, sparkling stars, cotton flakes, socks, gifts and a number of other decorative items. Even the churches are decorated for the occasion.  The market places are all embellished with tinsel and buntings and people masquerading as Santa stalk customers, particularly children with gifts. Decorated and glittering Christmas trees are all over the place.

The celebrations of Christmas at Goa begin in the evening of 24th December. The festivities begin with decorating the Christmas tree, making of the crib in each house and also a common ward/village crib. Decorating the Christmas tree form an integral part of the Christmas celebrations in Goa, which begins on the day before the Christmas. The Christmas trees are decorated with many decorative items including socks, candies, stars, bells, gifts, etc. Dancing, pealing of church bells and fireworks form an intrinsic part of the Christmas Day celebrations in Goa.

Carols are sung and all the churches in Goa organize the midnight Mass. The mid night Christmas mass, on Christmas Eve, draws huge crowds. The Midnight Mass commemorates the birth of Jesus at midnight. Therefore, the people of Goa sing Christmas carols and hymns during the midnight. The Midnight Mass in Goa is characterized by the sounding of bells and lighting candles. The service on Christmas Day is attended by Christians dressed in new clothes. After the mass there are cultural events and social gatherings with each person wishing every person they meet a “Merry Christmas”. Moreover, family reunions and partying also include the celebrations of Christmas.

Christmas Crib 2014

The Crib should be a cherished part of the Christmas celebration in every family. It is not only completely religious in significance but also presents to the children in a beautiful way the central event which we commemorate on this great feast. Thus it assumes the character of a religious shrine in the houses of the faithful during Christmas season. Dignified decoration might enhance its attraction and solemnity.

Christmas day is by comparison very silent. It is a day spent with family together in the comfort of one’s home. There are gifts for all the members of the family and even the visiting relatives get gifts kept under the Christmas tree. It is a time to reinforce bonds that may have gone astray or been neglected during the course of the year

It is remarkable that the celebration of Christmas in Goa is not restricted only to the Christians. But People belonging to various communities participate in the festival with immense enthusiasm. In fact, everything in the city/village seems to come alive with the festivities. The beaches in Goa form the centre of the festivities during this time. Loud music and dance, clubbed with sumptuous dishes mark the festivities of Christmas in Goa.

Festivities and visiting people go on even after Christmas, sometimes 10 days beyond Christmas. On New Year’s night, children sit with an effigy of an old man, much like a scarecrow on the road, and collect funds from passers-by.

They burn him at midnight, which is symbolic of putting the past behind and ushering in the New Year or the future.

The Christmas season ends officially on January 6, which is the Feast of the Magi or the three kings who came to pay obeisance to the infant Jesus. There is a Church service and a symbolic procession of the three kings at three places in Goa namely, Chandor, Reis Magos and Cuelim-Cansaulim.

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Vasco Saptah Festival

Vasco Saptah Festival

Vasco Saptah – Bola Pundalik Varde Hari Vathal


Goa being the beautiful state that it is, is popularly known as the most famous tourist destination. But Goa is much more than just beaches and sea. It has a soul which goes deep into the unique history and its rich culture, despite the long period of Portuguese colonisation. The hindu festivals have retained the unique goan character and are celebrated with deep fervour all around the state.

Vasco Saptah


The festival that intrigues me most, is the Vasco Saptah that is held a day after Nagpanchami that happens in July – august. The word ‘Saptah’ literally means seven days and the festival lasts for a week.


Like every other thing in Goa, this festival too has a story behind it. Legend has it that in the late 19 century, there was a plague epidemic in the city. The health facilities at that time were not that great and so a cure could not be found. The residents of Vasco could not just sit by while this epidemic disease spread, so they did what every Goan does best, turn towards a spiritual path. The local residents turned to Lord Damodar, an incarnation of lord shiva for help, they went to Zambaulim temple (near margao) of lord damodar and brought back a coconut as prasad to be installed for worship in Vasco. The initial installation was at old mata high school.


Being the devoted goans that we are, full of hope, their prayers were answered and the epidemic died out once the worship began. Mr. Anant Subrai Joshi, a well known citizen and philanthropist, offered his house, to house the holy shreepal and from then on, this festival is celebrated annually by all irrespective of caste or creed.

Vasco saptah festival



Port Town Vasco, being all work oriented with all the hustle and bustle, goes all out on this day! The religious rituals of Saptah commence at 12.30 p.m. on the day after Nagpanchami with the offering of a new coconut to Lord Damodar by one of the elders of the Joshi family. After the puja, devotees acclaim the Lord with chants of ‘Bola Pundalik Varde Hari Vathal’ to begin the festival. Singing of devotional songs or bhajans starts at this time and continues uninterrupted for 24 hours. At night, a beautifully decorated tableaux (par) with mythological themes is brought in procession to the temple from various parts of the town by different groups of the community. On following day, the holy shreepal, which was anointed the previous year is taken in procession along with dindi, with slogans of ‘Gyanba Tukarama’. The coconut is dipped in the sea and the procession then returns with it to the temple where it forms part of the prasad that is distributed to devotees. People from all over Goa come here to seek blessings in the belief that their prayers will be answered. People from other places in Goa visit the temple to pay obeisance to the deity and to seek blessings. The devotees offer fruits, agarbhatti, flowers, etc, to God. Prayers are said not only for personal peace and prosperity, but also for the safety and welfare of all Vasco da Gama’s citizens. The religious rituals of the festival concludes after exactly 24 hours.


All along the roads and by-lanes of the city of Vasco, the vendors put up their make-shift stalls. The vendors come from all over India to sell everything from trinkets and toys to furniture and the latest in fashion. Whatever you want, name it and its there for your picking. The stalls even remain upto 15 days, one cannot leave this without succumbing to the pretty goodies there are for sale! The Saptah attracts a huge crowd! a happy day to spend and be with your family and loved ones.


This place is not just filled with throngs of people but instead, I see it as a place filled with love, happiness, hope and faith. Our state may have caught up and moved ahead with the modern times, but we go way back when it comes to our faith and culture.


#Vasco City  #Festivals of Goa


Vasco Saptah 2012


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Viva Sao Joao

Viva Sao Joao

Viva Sao Joao

Summer is gone and the rains come along and if that is a reason enough to jump around in the water, then the feast of st. John the baptist could be it. One of the famous christian feasts in the state, the feast of St.John the baptist is celebrated on the 24th of June by young men all over Goa jumping into well to retrieve gifts thrown in by villagers.


History has it that the bible speaks of john the baptist leaping for joy in his mothers, Elizabeth’s womb when she was visited by mary who had just conceived jesus. San joao or St. john the Baptist baptized jesus in the river jordan. The jump into the well is to signify the joy felt by john when he sensed the presence of jesus christ even while he was in his mother’s womb.


sao joao in siolim goa

Kids wearing a crown made of flowers and leaves, these form the highlight of Soa Joao



The traditions followed are so fascinating that one cannot help but participate in it. On this day, people of all ages jump into well, streams and ponds. This is done generally in the spirit after imbibing Goa’s famous liquor ‘feni’ and singing ‘viva sao joao’. Youngster’s procession is held where they go from door to door and collect liquor and fruits. They then offer their prayers and collectibles in a water body in their town. New brides and marriageable girls are blessed and they throw flowers, vegetables and seasonal fruits in the water to fullfil their wishes. Many other youths then jump into the water to collect them.


The highlight of the day is the ‘sangodd’, a decorated floating platform, on which people parade singing mandos and religiuos hymns. The sangodds are uniquely decorated and members of that sangodd wear a uniform dress to distinguish themselves from the groups. This is also a time to celebrate one’s spirit of adventure. So, on this day there are a number of competitions that youngsters participate in. some of the beings the siolim boat parade, prizes for headgears, décor and costumes. People wear headgears or crowns made up of tender coconut leaves or flowers known as ‘copel’ and lively music is played on the ghumot (goan musical percussion instrument) and kansallem (cymbals).


fruits arranged for st. john the baptist feast in Goa

Fruits arranged in homes to celebrate the feast of St. John the Baptist in Goa




In the village of benaulim- south goa, which has the church of Saint John the Baptist, there is a 9 day novena before the feast day. On the feats day itself there are football matches, singing and dancing apart from the gastronomical delights of traditional goan food which includes sorpotel and sannas, feijoadas, sausage pullao among other foods and plenty of feni to go around and camaraderie to top it all off. People gather together to have fun and enjoy good company.


locals celebrate sao joao by playing fork music

Locals celebrating Sao Joao (the feast of St. John the baptist) by playing local instruments and dancing to Goan fork music.



Sao joao, like any other goan festival has the captivating spirit and merriment, colour and tradition. It is celebrated with such pomp and gaeity. There is so much good energy travelling around with all the happiness and laughters. It is truly something hard to miss when you are around in Goa! And for youngsters who think all this is such a bore, there is always parties that they can attend!



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Shigmo – The Dance Of Colours!

Shigmo – The Dance Of Colours!


20130407_190217editCome March, the month of Phalguna, and one hears the beats of drums and dhol  loud and clear. Yes, it’s  time to celebrate yet another festival in Goa. The colorful Shigmo festival  which captivates your senses and sets your pulse soaring till you think of nothing but joining in the revelry  that the festival offers. The streets of the town resound to the beats of ‘dholl’ – the drums, the ‘tashas’ and sounds of ‘conches’.  The celebrations includes colorful street floats, folk music and sword dances and lively spraying of dry colors, while the procession passes through the streets of Goa in gay abandon. The parade also includes martial art dances like `Ghode-morni’ known as the horse dance which is very popular in Goa.

Emerged as a symbol of communal harmony over the years, Shigmo is the folk festival of Goan Hindu which display a variety of folk dances, music, theatre forms and more. It is the occasion to see the various arts and crafts of the village artisans through costumes and dances which are based on mythological events, musical instruments, headgears, masks and jewelry.

[pullquote]The Konkani word Shigmo comes from the Prakrit word Suggimaho and the Sanskrit Sugrishmaka.  After the harvesting season, farmers and rural folk celebrate the festival  annually with hundreds of performers attired in traditional outfits and colourful turbans who play dhol (drums) and chant the names of various Hindu deities.[/pullquote]20130407_190431edit






There are two variants of Shigmo festival: Dhakto Shigmo (“small Shigmo”) and Vhadlo Shigmo (“big Shigmo”). Dhakto Shigmo is generally celebrated by farmers, the labour class and the rural population. It  begins some five days before the full-moon day of the Indian lunar month of Phalguna and ends on the full-moon day while Vhadlo Shigmo is celebrated by everyone in different temples on different dates around the same period. The first day of celebration is called Haldune and the second is Dhulvad or exchange of Gulāla.

On the first day, the village deity is bathed and dressed in saffron robes  and after the offering of food, a feast is held. Naman are songs sung in chorus during the festival, when villagers assemble at a fixed place. Jot is another kind of song. Dances include TalgadiHanpet, Lamp Dance and GophaDhol and Taso are drums, some of which can be huge, which people carry from door to door, dancing to their sound. Money is placed in a plate carried by the performers, in response to which they sing a song called the Tali, wishing the donor well.


On the last day of the festival, it is believed that a spirit,the Gade padap enters in the bodies of the dancers which makes them dance in a very frenzied manner . There is a collective bath,Mand davarap, taken after which the festival comes to an end amidst loud cheer and gaiety.


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The Goan Carnival

The Goan Carnival

The Goan Carnival!

It was that time of the year when the streets of Goa came alive and laughter filled the air.A collective spirit of revelry seemed to rock. Festivities spilled and the streets came alive with colorful floats, strumming of guitars, graceful dancers and non-stop entertainment. There were a lot of colorful processions, high voltage dances, floats, and music. The melodious strumming of guitars rendered the air and a jolly fiesta overwhelmed all other senses. The Carnival which started as a local Portuguese festival had now transcended boundaries and religions over the years.

DSC_0147editGoa with its universal appeal, sun-kissed beaches, extraordinary culture and vibrant festivals has its Carnival which is one of the most awaited festivals of Goa. Carnival (a Latin word, which means to take away meat) is a festival which is celebrated before Lent. Traditionally during Lent there are no weddings or any other celebrations and people abstain from rich foods and high living. The 40 days of Lent recalls the biblical account of the 40 days, Lord Jesus spent in the wilderness before his crucifixion. The history of the Carnival dates back to almost 500 years, to ancient Rome and Greece. The Portuguese introduced the Carnival when they established their colony in Goa. The Goan Carnival has gradually and certainly carved a niche of its own that can only be experienced in this tiny state.

This year in February, a major highlight of the Carnival was the King Momo Contest. The cooking competition at the food & cultural festival at Caranzalem, Panaji also saw many talented enthusiasts match their culinary skills against one another. Thousands of revelers including locals and tourists descended on the streets of Panaji to witness the spectacular and unique, 2013 Goa Carnival. Goa Chief Minister, Manohar Parrikar flagged off the festival. The Minister for Tourism, Government of Goa, Shri Dilip Parulekar voiced, The Goa Carnival is one of our biggest events of the year.DSC_0086edit

I hope that this event becomes the second-most popular event of the world after the Brazilian Carnival. This year, we had added more attractions including the food festival where Goan cuisine and cuisines from 15 other states were displayed. A hallmark of the much-awaited 3-day festival was the parading of colourful tableaux depicting the cultural heritage of Goa. The Carnival float parade blended noble themes with the comic, weird and bizarre. The highlight of the parade was anti-smoking campaign and a huge paper Mache dummy hanging from a makeshift gallows with a noose, urging ‘death’ as the punishment for rapists in the country.

Though a Christian festival, Carnival was celebrated with equal aplomb by Hindus, Muslims and Christians alike. People from all over the world thronged to Goa in large numbers. The 2013 Carnival saw as many as 50,000 tourists from Mumbai alone. This year the government extended the celebrations of the Carnival from 3 to 5 days. During these days, Bollywood actor and filmmaker, Farhan Akhtar added a special dash of spice with his performance. Starlets Neha Dhupia, Isha Koppikar and Tanushree Dutta too participated at the event. There were a heartwarming blend of hot fashion shows including the Wendell Rodricks Fashion Show and live music performances from famous names such as Parikrama, Indian Ocean and Anushka Manchanda. Goas own fusion star, Remo Fernandes ended the carnival with his live-wire performance that had the crowd imploring for more.

Viva Carnival!

remo edit2


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Ganesha Festival

Ganesha Festival

Ganesha Chaturthi: Lord of Success – All About the Hindu Elephant Deity


Ganesha the elephant deity riding a mouse has become one of the commonest mnemonics for anything associated with Hinduism. This not only suggests the importance of Ganesha, but also shows how popular and pervasive this deity is in the minds of the masses.

The Lord of Success

The son of Shiva and Parvati, Ganesha has an elephantine countenance with a curved trunk and big ears, and a huge pot-bellied body of a human being. He is the Lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. He is also worshipped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. In fact, Ganesha is one of the five prime Hindu deities (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga being the other four) whose idolatry is glorified as the panchayatana puja.

ganesh festival

Significance of the Ganesha Form


Ganesha’s head symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence, and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings. The elephant head denotes wisdom and its trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality. In his upper right hand Ganesha holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way. The noose in Ganesha’s left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties.The broken tusk that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice, which he broke for writing the Mahabharata. The rosary in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous. The laddoo (sweet) he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman. His fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to our petition. The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms. And he is humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures, a mouse.

How Ganesha Got His Head?

The story of the birth of this zoomorphic deity, as depicted in the Shiva Purana, goes like this: Once goddess Parvati, while bathing, created a boy out of the dirt of her body and assigned him the task of guarding the entrance to her bathroom. When Shiva, her husband returned, he was surprised to find a stranger denying him access, and struck off the boy’s head in rage. Parvati broke down in utter grief and to soothe her, Shiva sent out his squad (gana) to fetch the head of any sleeping being who was facing the north. The company found a sleeping elephant and brought back its severed head, which was then attached to the body of the boy. Shiva restored its life and made him the leader (pati) of his troops. Hence his name ‘Ganapati’. Shiva also bestowed a boon that people would worship him and invoke his name before undertaking any venture.

However, there’s another less popular story of his origin, found in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana: Shiva asked Parvati to observe the punyaka vrata for a year to appease Vishnu in order to have a son. When a son was born to her, all the gods and goddesses assembled to rejoice on its birth. Lord Shani, the son of Surya (Sun-God), was also present but he refused to look at the infant. Perturbed at this behaviour, Parvati asked him the reason, and Shani replied that his looking at baby would harm the newborn. However, on Parvati’s insistence when Shani eyed the baby, the child’s head was severed instantly. All the gods started to bemoan, whereupon Vishnu hurried to the bank of river Pushpabhadra and brought back the head of a young elephant, and joined it to the baby’s body, thus reviving it.

Ganesha, the Destroyer of Pride

Ganesha is also the destroyer of vanity, selfishness and pride. He is the personification of material universe in all its various magnificent manifestations. “All Hindus worship Ganesha regardless of their sectarian belief,” says D N Singh in A Study of Hinduism. “He is both the beginning of the religion and the meeting ground for all Hindus.”

The devotees of Ganesha are known as ‘Ganapatyas’, and the festival to celebrate and glorify him is called Ganesh Chaturthi.

 Ganesh Chaturthi : How to celebrate the great Ganesha festival?

Ganesha Chaturthi, the great Ganesha festival, also known as ‘Vinayak Chaturthi’ or ‘Vinayaka Chavithi’ is celebrated by Hindus around the world as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. It is observed during the Hindu month of Bhadra (mid-August to mid-September) and the grandest and most elaborate of them, especially in the western India state of Maharashtra, lasts for 10 days, ending on the day of ‘Ananta Chaturdashi’.

The Grand Celebration

A life-like clay model of Lord Ganesha is made 2-3 months prior to the day of Ganesh Chaturthi. The size of this idol may vary from 3/4th of an inch to over 25 feet.

On the day of the festival, it is placed on raised platforms in homes or in elaborately decorated outdoor tents for people to view and pay their homage. The priest, usually clad in red silk dhoti and shawl, then invokes life into the idol amidst the chanting of mantras. This ritual is called ‘pranapratishhtha’. After this the ‘shhodashopachara’ (16 ways of paying tribute) follows. Coconut, jaggery, 21 ‘modakas’ (rice flour preparation), 21 ‘durva’ (trefoil) blades and red flowers are offered. The idol is anointed with red unguent or sandal paste (rakta chandan). Throughout the ceremony, Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda and Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, and Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted.

For 10 days, from Bhadrapad Shudh Chaturthi to the Ananta Chaturdashi, Ganesha is worshipped. On the 11th day, the image is taken through the streets in a procession accompanied with dancing, singing, to be immersed in a river or the sea symbolizing a ritual see-off of the Lord in his journey towards his abode in Kailash while taking away with him the misfortunes of all man. All join in this final procession shouting “Ganapathi Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya” (O father Ganesha, come again early next year). After the final offering of coconuts, flowers and camphor is made, people carry the idol to the river to immerse it.

The whole community comes to worship Ganesha in beautifully done tents. These also serve as the venue for free medical checkup, blood donation camps, charity for the poor, dramatic performances, films, devotional songs, etc. during the days of the festival.


Swami Sivananda Recommends


On the Ganesh Chaturthi day, meditate on the stories connected with Lord Ganesha early in the morning, during the Brahmamuhurta period. Then, after taking a bath, go to the temple and do the prayers of Lord Ganesha. Offer Him some coconut and sweet pudding. Pray with faith and devotion that He may remove all the obstacles that you experience on the spiritual path. Worship Him at home, too. You can get the assistance of a pundit. Have an image of Lord Ganesha in your house. Feel His Presence in it.

Don’t forget not to look at the moon on that day; remember that it behaved unbecomingly towards the Lord. This really means avoid the company of all those who have no faith in God, and who deride God, your Guru and religion, from this very day.

Take fresh spiritual resolves and pray to Lord Ganesha for inner spiritual strength to attain success in all your undertakings.


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