Goa- the paradise of the east, with its swaying palms, virgin beaches, tiny picturesque villages, magnificent, monuments and a unique cultural synthesis- a rare blend of yesterday & tomorrow. This erstwhile Portuguese colony, on the west coast of India is a tropical paradise unfolding its incredible charm and beauty all year round.
The climate and scenery can hardly be improved upon leaving nothing to be desired. The temperature stays high and dry, country is chock full of mangoes, pine apples and coconuts which thrive amidst the silvery sands of the world most beautiful beaches never more than a few steps away. Palm bordered rivers flows down to the Arabian Sea and the towns well cared for neat and clean in any European city.
Panjim or Panaji- the capital of Goa situated on the left bank of the silvery Mandovi river, this town with an area of nearly 4 Sq.km. Margao is a thriving commercial metropolis linked by Konkan railway route and is connected by a number of trains to Mumbai, Mangalore and Kerala. Bounded on the southeast by Uttara Kannada District and east by Belgaum District of Kannada state, in the north by Sindhudurg District of Maharashtra state and west by Arabian Sea.
Goa, the smallest state of India, is a tropical paradise on the west coast. Cradled between the rugged ranges of the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, this beautiful konkan territory presents a fusion of cultures around the world. The palm lined coastal plains, the wooded uplands and beaches here attract tourists from far and near. Goa is the land of number of beautiful beaches, rivers, waterfalls, wildlife sanctuaries, churches and temples.
Goa due to the mystic combination of east and west displays the essence of this combination in its art and culture. Goa is blessed with the classical art forms. The people of Goa are excelled in every branch of fine arts including poetry, music, painting and pottery. We can find the traditional Goan touch in their art and craft forms.
As for crafts, Goa is the land of exquisite crafts and artisans, where artistic quality finds an innate expression. Over the years, Goans are excelled in the fields of music and fine arts. Goans are always proud for their contribution to the music. Many of the famous names in the music field belong to Goa, which includes the Nightingale of India- Lata Mangeshkar, classical maestro Kishori Amonkar, Asha Bhosle etc.
Goa is renowned for its exquisitely carved rosewood and teak furniture, excellent terracotta pottery, the classical brass items and unique gold jewellery designs. Goan folk paintings are striking which fascinates tourists from across the world. The paintings are mainly based on mythology depicting the stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata and New Testament. These paintings can be seen on the walls of churches and temples.
The culture of Goa is shaped by several influences over the centuries. The most prominent one is Portuguese, as they had ruled the state for more than five centuries. We can find a cheerful blend of different ethnicities and religion here in Goa. Even in the architecture, there is a prominent European influence but is steeped in a history that is uniquely Goan. The people here are generally friendly and laidback, welcoming visitors with warmth. One tradition that no traveller can afford to ignore is the siesta time.
The climate of Goa as being a coastal region can termed as coastal. Being in the tropical zone near Arabian Sea, the climate here is mostly warm and humid. The month of May is the hottest, with daytime temperatures touching 35"C (95"F). To top it, the heat is coupled with high humidity. The monsoons arrive around early June and provide a much-needed reprieve from the heat. Goa becomes most beautiful with greenery all around during the monsoon season. Most of the annual rainfall is received through the monsoon that last until late September. Goa has a short cool season too which lasts between mid-December and February. These months are marked by cool nights with temperatures of about 20"C (68"F) and warm days of about 29"C (84"F). Humidity remains in moderate amounts.
With over 13okm coastline, Goa is a paradise for sunbathers and swimmers. The main beaches are Gasper Dias, Calagute, Colva, Anjuna, Palolem, Dona Paula, Vagator, Sinquerim, Agonda etc. The golden stretches of sand bordering a clear, sapphire sea are the main attractions here.
Anjuna is a popular beach area adjacent to Chapora Fort. In Anjuna there is a magnificent Albuquerque mansion built in 1920, flanked by octagonal towers and attractive Mangalore tiled –roof.
Palolem beach is located at a distance of 50km from Margao. Just west of Chaudi one of the most enchanting beaches in Goa relatively deserted, with backdrop of Western Ghats, situated in Sothern Taluk of Canacona.
Gasper Dias is popularly called as Miramar; it is the point where the Mandovi River meets the sea. From here, one has an excellent view of Aguada Fort just across the river. Miramar, a gorgeous golden beach of soft sand is bounded by palm trees and is nearly an extension of Panaji, since it lies on the outskirts of the capital town. It is a very stunning beach simply enough to spend some seclusion time with your better half as it is prolonged open and far inviting a long and relaxed stroll along its golden sands spotted by palm fringes swaying across the vast horizon. This beach is just ideal to spend a quiet twilight and watch the pictorial sunset.
The Dona Paula Beach is named after Dona Paula de Menezes, daughter of a viceroy in colonial India, who threw herself off the cliff, when refused consent to wed a local angler, Gaspar Dias. Dona Paula Beach is renowned as “Lovers’ Paradise.” Tranquil and blue, Dona Paula unravels the ultimate in aquatic sport and fun. The Dona Paula Sports Club at Dona Paula offers some of the best water sports facilities to the sports enthusiasts including Water-scooter rides, Motorboat rides, etc. Dona Paula is also famous for the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, where you can spot both migratory and local birds. There is a myth connected with this beach that in moonlit nights the spirit of this beautiful girl emerges from the waves wearing only a pearl necklace.
It is at Rachol, the seminary, located off the Zuari River, in a pictorial setting, was built in the early 17th century. The ideal setting for a museum dedicated exclusively to Christian art and the seminary has the distinction of installing the very first printing press in Asia. The museum has enriched the rich cultural heritage and the history of Goa.
Francisco de Xavier Y Jassu, later known as St. Francis Xavier was born in Navarre Spain in 1506 of noble parentage. He had a strong religious beat in mind and entered the church at an early age. The missionary work of St. Francis Xavier constituted an important chapter in the history. He reached Goa in May 1542, after more than a year hard journey.
With Goa as base, he travelled a lot. He converted several people in Mylapore and Eastern coast. Later he went to Malacca and after learning- Malay the local language, preached Christian faith in that tongue. He ten went to Japan to preach his religion there. Because of the continuous opposition from the local, he was disappointed and left to Goa. On the way, back he got ill and died of severe fever praying God until the end in the island of Sanccian off China coast.
His body buried at Sanccian later taken to Malacca, where he had acquired good following. After several months, a respectable burial thought of. When the grave opened, the body was still fresh and life-like. Everybody agreed it was a miracle. The body then brought to Goa and transferred to the church of Bom-Jesus. Now it is in the epistle of the same church where an artistic mausoleum built for the silver coffin. The body of St. Francis Xavier is exposed for public view for every ten years.
Panaji, the bustling state capital is one of the most beautiful cities of India, rising on the wooded terraces of the Althinho Hill and then sloping down on the Mandvi River. Places of interest in Panaji include, the 14th centaury palace, built by the Sultan of Bijapur, Adilshah that houses the secretariat today. Close by is the bronze statue Abbe Faria, believed to be the father of hypnotism. Standing atop the hill is the church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. Nearby Panaji are the forts Aguada and Raji Magus.
Madgaon is the commercial hub and the main railway station of Goa. It has fine parks, board square and palatial houses. The Friday Fair is an added attraction. Vasco da Gama, is a beautiful coastal town with fine buildings and a church dominating the centre. Mormugao is the port city of Goa and is a fine natural harbor.
A modern well laid out city close to Mormugao Harbour. It has beautiful and extensive avenue and gardens. The air terminus of Goa at Dabolim lies on the outskirts of the city is also the railway terminus for passenger service. The city saw many colossal buildings shed their attire and stand up. Viceroy's Palace, offices and warehouse sprung up to take care of the needs of future. The buildings, which were designed to carry political activity, now stand to entertain the tourists. The colourful and cordial ambiance only adds to the flavor. Therefore, wherever you come from, Vasco is one place where you will feel perfectly at home.
Pilar is the important religious and educational centre of Christian Missionaries. The Church, Seminary and School atop hillock command a magnificent panorama of the countryside around a fine view of Mormugao Harbour and Zuari River.
Aguada Fort built by the Portuguese in 1609-1612, to command the entry into the river Mandovi, in order to protect Old Goa from potential enemy attacks. The fort presently houses the central jail. An overwhelming edifice, the Aguada fort stands tall among the Portuguese-era forts scattered across Goa. Deliberately located at the estuary of the river Mandovi, the Aguada fort is the largest among the lot. Aguada in Portuguese translates to 'water' and the fort has been called so for the spring within the battlements that provided water supply to the ships that called here arriving after the long sea voyage from Lisbon.
Bhagawan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary situated along the Northeast border of Goa at Molem, about one and a half hours journey from Panaji along Panaji-Belgaum NH, covers about 240sq.km of thick forest clad slopes of Western Ghats and its valleys and is the biggest of three sanctuaries of Goa. The directorate of Tourism has built comfortable cottages and dormitories for tourists.
Bondla wildlife sanctuary is an ideal jungle resort and a major attraction for school going children and nature lovers. Its mini zoo, sprawling deer park in natural habitat, botanical and rose garden attract people throughout the year. Comfortable cottages are available here for tourists. The Zoological park and garden remain closed in Thursdays.
The church of Mary Immaculate conception is located in Panjim. This church believed to have been in existence by 1541. The church re-built in1619. When Panjim declared as the capital of Goa, the great bell of the Church of Our Lady of Grace in old Goa (the bell of Inquisition) also moved to this church from Aguada in 1841. The bell, which is now in this church reputed as world’s second largest bell.
The interiors of the church are relatively simple in design. The altar divided into three parts. The main altar dedicated into Mary Immaculate. The other two heavily gilded curved altars dedicated to Jesus Crucified and to Our Lady of Rosary lying on either side of the main one. There is a statue of St Francis Xavier in the south transept of the main altar. This was originally located in the Idalco Palace, which moved to here in 1918.
During night, this large monument will transform into a glowing specter. Complete with tiny electric bulbs, the entire church is lit up in the eeriness of night. The best time to visit this church is during the feast.
Se Cathedral church dedicated to St. Catherine as a reminder of Alphonso de Alberuerq’s triumph over Goa on her feast day. This is a magnificent 16th century monument. Se Cathedral church is the largest church in Asia. This is also bigger than any other church in Portuguese. The architectural style of this church is a mixture Portuguese and Gothic. The uniqueness of this church lies in the simple style of architecture. There are some other peculiarities connected with this church, which includes the vision of Christ appeared in 1919 in the cross of miracle housed in the St Cathedral church. The cross of miracle said to grow slowly still today. Earlier Se Cathedral church also used to be the venue for the exposition of the hallowed relics of St Francis Xavier to the public.
Bom Jesus Basilica is debatably the most admired churches throughout the world. Although partially in ruins, the church is still a perfect example of Jesuit architecture in its simplicity and elegance. According to Latin records, the construction of this church started on 24th of November 1594 and completed on 15th of May 1605. In year 1946, this church was elevated to the status of minor basilica. Due to its historical importance and unmatched beauty, Basilica of Bom Jesus had declared a UNESCO world heritage site.
This church is dedicated to Infant Jesus. The sacred relics of St Francis Xavier- the patron saint of Goa are kept in this church. The saint is believed to grant the petitions of devotee who pray at his mausoleum. The day of his feast, 3 December, attracts crowd from all over the world.
Church of St Francis of Assisi is an excellent piece of 17th century religious art. There is a beautiful octagonal tabernacle in the middle of which richly decorated in an ornate style. Part of the church of St Francis Assisi today houses a part of archeological museum. Pre-historic items from a distant past as reminders of Goa Dourada, Golden Goa exhibited here. This church is also known as “Pearl of the orient” or “Rome of the East” during its heyday.
During the zenith of its glory and magnificence, it was applauded as the richest and most beautiful church in the world. Due to unknown reasons, the church demolished in 1661 and later on reconstructed. The exteriors of the church display Tuscan architecture while the interiors blend the mosaic- Corinthian style. Scenes from the bible portrayed in the interiors while the walls adorned with floral designs.
Church of St. Cajetan believed to model on the original design of Basilica of St Peter in Rome. The architectural style of the church is Corinthian both externally and internally. The gilded altars with rich carvings are in rich Baroque style. The church building itself built of laterite blocks, which are lime plastered.
Even though, the church dedicated to our body of divine providence, it has been named after St. Cajetan, the founder of the order of theatines. The church of St. Cajetan is the only surviving domed church in Goa. There are six altars besides the main one, which is dedicated to Our Lady of Divine Providence. These altars profusely carved and gilded with twisted shafts, figures of angels dominating in each. The altars also have paintings on canvas of the Italian school, some depicting scenes from the life of St. Cajetan.
There is a tank or well beneath the church, which led to many conjectures. Some regards that the platform covers the holy tank of a Hindu temple that once existed here, while others explain that the water reservoir at the center of the building was the design of the architect to afford greater stability to the structure.
The small settlement of Reis Magos lies on the bank of river Mandovi. Here one can see the famous landmarks of Goa, the Reis Magos Fort and Reis Magos Church. Reis Magos Church id the only place in Goa where feast dedicated to the Three Wise Men- Casper, Melchior and Balthazar held. This beautiful church built in the year 1555 by the Franciscan order of Monks.
It is believed that the church built on the ruins of an ancient Hindu temple. You can find the lion statues of typical Vijayanagar Temple style on the sides of the stairs to the church. The church hours the tomb of two of Goa’s former Viceroys. The church, whose brightly painted portico is visible from across the river in Panaji has quite exquisite and impressive interiors. The exteriors of church are dazzling white but inside they are bright and colourful. People from all over come here to marvel at the wooden supports, which are multicoloured and portray the Three Wise Men bearing gifts for Baby Jesus Christ. The high altar of the church makes it more stunning.
There are many famous temples in Goa. The narration of the most primitive known temples in Goa dates back to over a thousand years. The fundamental design of the temples of Goa are in essence like most Hindu temples in India, organized around the central shrine or ‘Garbhagriha’ or the sanctum sanctorum- home of the main deity. The pyramidal shaped tower or the traditional ‘shikara’ arises from the main shrine. There are two or more shrines dedicated to the ‘Upa devatas’ near to the entrance to the main shrine.
The Brahma temple located at a distance of 7km from Valpoi. This temple is dedicated to Lord Brahma- Hindu god of creation. This temple believed to be built in 5th century AD and is thus considered to an ancient pilgrim centre for Hindus’ in Goa.
The statue of Lord Brahma in this temple is said to have brought to Kormoli or Carabolim by a large section of devotees, those escaped from the religious intolerance.
The Shri Shanthadurga Temple, dedicated to goddess Parvathi known as Goddess of Peace. The legend is that goddess once mediated the quarrel between Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. This is the largest temple in Goa located 33km from Panaji, Shri Shanthidurga temple has a striking ‘Garbhakuda’ a huge tank, high light tower or ‘Deepa stambha’ and ‘Agrasalas’ for the lodging of the devotees.
This temple is amongst the few temples survived the campaign of destruction of Hindu temples in territories. The temple has extremely beautiful natural surroundings and known to have been built in 1550AD. The temple is built of mud and palm leaves as laterite or granite were rarely used in the early days.
Shri Mangueshi Temple dedicated to form of Lord Shiva found only in Goa. This temple is located at a distance of 23km from Panaji. Shri Mangueshi temple is one of the famous temples in Goa. Here Lord Shiva worshipped in the shape of Shiva ling. A legend connected with the place is that once Lord Shiva defeated by Goddess Parvathi came here for meditation. Goddess Parvathi came here in search of Lord Shiva. On seeing her, Shiva disguised into to tiger. On seeing the tiger goddess Parvathi got terrified and cried, ‘Trahi mam Girisha’ for help. Lord shiva reverted into his form and left to Kailas along with goddess Parvathi. Thus the place where this tale took place known as ‘mamgirisha’ and later on by usage, it transformed in to Manguesh.
This temple is uniquely Goan with a grandiose lamp tower at the entrance. Though small, temple is very beautiful and attracts vast mass of people every year. The exterior of the temple resembles the style of a Gurudwara or Palatial mansion. The temple is splendid with all the component of a Hindu temple, like the Prakara, mini shrines, Garbha Griha, grand towers and large courtyards. The galleries inside the temple houses, exquisite specimen of elaborate woodcarvings depicting the stories from Ramayana. There are wooden images of Ashtadikpal and Gandharvas on the either sides.
The annual jatra of the temple is held in the month of Chaitra during Ramanavami. Shivaratri is also celebrated with Rathotsava on Magha Amavasya (next day). The temple has Agrashalas with well-equipped rooms and halls for wedding purposes.
The Chandranath temple is located in Quepem about 14km from Margao. It is also known as Chandreshwar Temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple believed to be associated with Bhoja dynasty dated back to 8th century. They had named their capital after this deity as Chandrapur (currently Chandor). The Shiva Ling of the temple is carved out from the rock and it oozes out water when the rays of the full moon fall on the ling. This specialty of the temple makes it unique.
The temple is constructed in a way that moon light falls on Shiva Ling on every full moon day. The Shri Chandranath Temple at Quepem in Goa provides a breathtaking view of the picturesque green valley of Salcete and Quepem. The ambience is truly awe stirring.
Shri Vithal Temple located at Sanquelim is dedicated to the Lord Vishnu. The temple belongs to the ancestors of Rane family. It is believed that this family has its roots in the city of Udaipur. They shifted to Goa about 600 years ago. They constructed this holy temple on the bank of Valvanta River. In 1942 AD, Goa Shri Vithal Temple went under refurbishment. After this renovation process, the temple sported the North Indian architectural style. However, the innermost part of this holy Goa temple was left untouched. Shri Vithal Temple is renowned for its elegantly carved wooden chariot. This chariot alleged to symbolize the chariot of Arjuna of Mahabharata, which was driven by Lord Krishna.
Shri Bhagawati temple an ancient 500 years old temple located at a distance of 7km from Pernem. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Bhagawati Ashtabhuja or Goddess with eight hands. Shri Bhagavati Temple in Pemem has a temple complex having five temples, main one being of Shri Bhagavati. Other temples are of Shri Sateri, Shri Dev Ravalnath, Shri Dev Bhivangi Panchakshari & Brahma (Shri Vishnu, Shri Ganapath, Shri Shankar). Shri Bhagavati temple in Pemem has two Deepstambhas, which are particularly striking. The other fascinating thing about the temple is two life size images of elephants in standing position, made of black stone on either side at the entrance to welcome the visitors. The Goddess Bhagvati Asthbhuja in a standing position on a high podium is very magnificent. Dussehra celebrated with gaiety from Ashwin Shuddha Pratipada to Poomima, when over 25 thousand devotees assemble at the temple.
Shri Navdurga temple is situated 28 kms from Panjim at Madkai, which is in Ponda. This temple is dedicated to goddess Navdurga. It is said to be more than 500 years old. In 1603 this temple was renovated. The presiding deity worshipped at the Navdurga temple at Madkai is a fierce form of goddess Durga known as the Mahishasuramardini. The idol is made of stone and is about 4 ft in height. There is peculiarity about the image of the idol that the neck of the Goddess is turned in the left direction.
The Sri Navdurga Temple is known for the festival of Kartika Vadya celebrations here. This festival is celebrated with much pageantry and grandeur in great carousing and spirit. All of the devotees come together during this festival and enjoy it to the fullest. It attracts all the tourists and is indeed a unique and rare experience.
Shri Mahadev Temple is located at a distance of 5kms from Kasarpal. This temple has the beautiful natural surrounding at village sal. Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is renowned all over the Goa for its annual festival of "Gade", which is a three-day religious affair from Phalgun Vadya 1 to 3. Devotees believe that people can have Darshan of 'Devchar' at night during the festival and hence the Gade lures huge crowds even from urban areas of Goa.
Shri Datta Mandir at Sanquelim is well known all over for the miraculous cure for mental troubles which the deity, the Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar, is said of offer. The temple is situated 37 kms at Dattawadi, Sanquelim, and 40 kms. from Margao. The century old temple of trimurthy (Hindu) has a backdrop of a beautiful hillock covered with dense groves of areca palms. The most important festival celebrated here, which devotees from all over Goa attend, is Datta Jayanti, which falls in the month of December. The deity is believed to have cured many people of unsound mind. The entire interior consists of white marble.
The cuisine of Goa has a remarkable mix of influences from all the cultures that it met with. One can see the two separate traditions in cuisine influenced by Hinduism and Christianity; there are some meeting points that present motivating concord. One of the most popular dishes, the pork Vindaloo is an outcome of this striking harmony. The Portuguese cooking has a strong and significant influence on Goan Cuisine. Goan food is simple but it is chili hot, spicy, and pungent.
The geographical location of Goa on the Konkan coast blessed it with the exotic spices grown in the region, along with the other states on the coast like Maharashtra and Kerala. Fish, Curry, Rice, Kokam (a red coloured sour fruit), Aromatic Spices, Pickles, Coconut Milk, Tamarind, Palm Vinegar and a variety of Chutneys are measured as the uniqueness of Goan food. A typical Goan would favor seafood to all other meats and would use lots of coconut for food preparation. You can also find influences of Kashmiri, Muslim and Portuguese and African, apart from the tribes who lived in the dense, rain-drenched forests of ancient Goa on the Goan cuisine.
Rice, fish, and coconut are the basic components of the typical Goan food salver. Delicacies made from these three items expected in nearly every Goan meal. One of the most famous cuisines of Goa is the Ambot-tik, a striking sweet and sour dish made of fish. Goa is famous for its seafood eaten and relished by people in every stratum. A die hard non-vegetarian can have a nice experience to cherish with the sea foods of Goa. Another traditional Goan snack would be Pao com Chouricos, which is fried Goan sausage, sautéed with onions and served with bread. The Goan follows a typical Portugal style of soaking meat in a concoction of spices before cooking. Yet another very famous and delicious local food of Goa is the Pork Vindaloo in which pork is cooked in spicy and oily gravy. Goans say that if you taste the Pork Vindaloo once, you will not like any other pork preparation! One can also find many common dishes like prawns, chicken, beef, etc. in Goa. Almost every other Goan dish uses rice, fish or curry in the preparation of a traditional food item. Many dishes use coconut milk to give it a different aroma and an exotic flavor.
Goa truly offers a palatable cuisine, not be missed at any cost. The best places to try local Goan cuisines are those small roadside restaurants. They surely provide services that will win your heart over. The food is prepared with generous doses of love and devotion. So make sure you try the traditional Goan cuisine that is sure to add spice to your vacation in Goa.
Feni- Goa’s Most Popular Hot Drink Feni of Goa is the native liquor that has grown hugely popular around the globe. Feni is the most favored local drink among the hard drinkers. There are two types of feni’s - Cashew feni and Coconut feni. Cashew feni is made out of the juice of cashew apples whereas coconut feni is made from the toddy collected by toddy tappers. While coconut feni has its own charm, because of its flavor many prefer cashew feni. Between the two, cashew feni costs more.
In the traditional method of making cashew feni, the cashew apples manually crushed in a coimbi, a rock on the hill, carved or shaped like a basin with an outlet for the juice. The juice is collected in a huge earthen pot called Kodem, which is buried in the ground. The juice is then distilled in earthen or copper pots. The crushed cashew apples arranged in shape of a cake in the coimbi and tied with a string. A huge boulder is placed over it. The final quota of juice produced in a clean form is called Neero. This is used as a remedy for constipation.
In traditional method of distilling cashew feni, the cashew juice is put in a big pot called Bhann. The Bhann serves as a closed boiler. It is connected to a smaller pot called Launni by means of a conduit, serves as a receiver or collector. The juice in the big pot is then boiled by burning firewood under it. As the process of vaporization and distillation goes on and the concentrated liquid collects in the smaller pot, the pressure in the receiver is kept in check by pouring cold water on it, frequently with a wooden ladle. The first stage of processing is done on big fire but the later stage of distillation has to be done on slow fire to keep the pressure and heat under control. The process of distilling feni with such apparatus takes about 8 hours and locally called Bhatti.
The liquor produced from cashew is of three grades Urrac, Cazulo and feni. The Urrac is the product of first distillation. It is light and can be consumed neat. Its strength ranges between 14 and 16 grao. However, when consumed in excess, Urrac intoxicates the mind like any other hot drink. The Urrac is said to go well with orange or lemon. Nowadays feni is produced after second distillation itself. The second or third hand feni is a product par excellence.
Palm Feni is pure but a strong drink ranking with the strongest spirits. It comes from Toddy, which is produced by tapping the sap from the base of the young palm shoots. Unfermented, the Toddy make a nourishing and refreshing drink and when strained and boiled down to crystallising point, it produces palm jaggery, the coarse brown slabs of sugar used in Goan sweet dishes.
Within hours of tapping, the Toddy ferments to about 4% of alcohol. Often, it is drunk soon afterwards, but when distilled, the first gives the more potent Urrack, a favourite drink sold in the local bars. The famous palm Feni is the result of the second distillation.
Goa with its rich historic backdrop has an evident touch of this in its festivals also. The festivals of Goa are very colourful and kaleidoscopic. This small sate of India was under the Portugal rule, Mughal rule and has a tradition of its own. This has resulted in an exceptional cultural blend, which is evident from the festivals it celebrates. Goan people celebrate Hindu, Muslim, Christian and festivals those unique to Goa with equal enthusiasm and energy.
Goa Carnival is the most famous festival in the state and celebrated since the 18th century as a precursor to the abstinence of Lent. 'Carnaval’ is elite and distinctive to Goa, and was introduced by the Portuguese who ruled over Goa for over five hundred years. Carnival in Goa is a non-stop 3-day festival of color, song and music, providing a healthy entertainment for all, young and old. The soothing climate, full of fun- ‘n’ -frolic, which the Carnival generates, is long awaited. There is enthusiasm and happiness all around. The vivacious musical parades and sumptuous floats are the major highlights of the carnival. The carnival attracts inestimable visitors from India and all over the world.
The float parades are organized in association with the State Tourism Department. The float parade in Panaji will be led by a special float hosting King Momo, a specially decorated float, which will declare the decree of eat, drink and merry.
Goa carnival displays a musical extravaganza. Street Plays, songs, dances, and unrehearsed farces mocking the establishment performed before the wholehearted, receptive audience. Floats depicting admired lullabies and nursery rhymes make a capricious and vivid vista on the streets. In the three days of merriment, cultural functions and competitions abound, judged by specially selected people. King Momo distributes the prizes to the winners.
The festive aura fills every corner of the state. Both men and women are elated. They put on fancy clothes and colourful masks and dance to the music. Wake up with sounds of cymbals and bagpipers to see the parade making its way through the street. The state capital, Panjim brims with an escapable aroma of overwhelming fun. Live performances and dances that continue until the night add to the celebrations.
The energetic people of Goa do not lag behind the rest of the country when it comes to Holi celebrations. The festival of spring is called Shigmo in Goa. The Shigmo Festival is a colour festival celebrated in the month of “Falgun” as per Saka Calendar in Goa. Famous temple “Yatras” held during this festival period. Processions carried out at temples by throwing ‘gulal’ and dancing with umbrellas and ‘Dindis’. This festival is planned in different cities to magnetize tourists. Processions take place with traditional goan dances and modern floats. Prizes are distributed for best performance in the procession and best float decorators.
The festival is celebrated mostly by the masses following all religious traditions. As expected from the Goans, the festival is accompanied with trumpet blast. Goans conscientiously follow performance on drumbeats and epic endorsement of mythology. Vivid and vibrant colours of gulal and neel are lavishly used. Highlight of Shigmotav is the performances of troupes in the form of parades and cultural dramas. Shigmo is a festival of farewell to winter and welcome to spring celebrated with colour, songs and dances to the beat of drums. Float parades depicting various scenes of mythology also displayed.
Bonderam festival is the harvest festival celebrated in the Goa. This is celebrated in the month of August in all over the Goa mainly in the Divar Island. This festival claims to have a unique history behind it. It is believed that the festival is celebrated as a reminder of the protests against the Portuguese, who used to mark the village boundaries with the help of flags to avoid land disputes of land encroachment. The villagers resented the rules and they protested against this system by knocking down all the flags. Today, in a parody of the past, this is commemorated with a ‘Fotash’ flight (toy weapon of bamboo stem) and berries are used as missiles in a mock fight between rival groups to knock down an offending flag.