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Festivals of Goa
Tour BookingThe Goa Carnival is a three day riot of colours, song and music. Fun and Merriment being the two main themes of Goa carnival, it is a time of feasting-drinking-merrymaking. Introduced by King Momo just before the Lent season of the Christian calendar, the Carnival is Goa 's most famous festival and has been celebrated since the 18th century. A time for buffoonery, fun- 'n' –frolic, and gay abandon, a festive revelry prevails throughout the three days. Balloons bobbed up in the air with multicolored trails, colorful processions featuring horse-drawn carriages, decorated bullock carts and gorgeously bedecked floats depicting rural life parade the streets are the highlights of the carnivals as are the noisy crackers and scintillating firework. Distinctly Latin in character and a legacy of Portuguese cultural tradition, the Carnival is celebrated only in Goa .

With its only relevance to Christianity being that it is celebrated just before Lent, the festival today has no religious undertones and has come to be a cultural highlight of the state, rather than of a religion. A great leveler, it is a social festival that brings the different sections of society together.

Fairs and Festivals of Goa

With the majority of the population belonging to different religions, Goa has scores of festivals –Hindu, Christians as well as Muslim that is celebrated the year around with the same gusto and fervor albeit with a Goan flavor. The festivals are filled with music, dance, cultural events, exotic cuisines, colours and laughter’s, all of which together make Goa a unique destination.
 

January-February

  • Mahashivratri, a celebration in honor of Lord Shiva held at all the principal Siva temples, such as the Rudreshwar, Mangueshi, Nagueshi, Sri Mahadev – Bhumika and other temples.
  • Ratha-Saptami festival takes place in February at the Mallikarjuna Temple .
  • Maruti-Zatra at Sri Mahalakshmi Temple is important, as Mahalakshmi is the presiding deity of Panaji, Goa ’s capital city.
  • Mahalsa Jatra or Vijayarathotsav (Chariot Festival) is celebrated at Mahalsa Temple of Mohini in Ponda.
  Ratha Saptmi
  • Feast of the Three Kings at Reis Magos (January 6): On this day large crowds of people go to a hillock in Cansaulim where the arrival of the three Kings who bear gifts to Infant Jesus is depicted in a colorful manner. It is followed by a grand feast. It is also celebrated in a smaller scale at Chandor (Salcette) and Reis Magos (Bardez).
 

 

February-March

  • Shigmotsav or Shigmo: Corresponding with Holi or Spring Festival is the five-day festival of Shigmotsav or Shigmo. Celebrated all over Goa on the full-moon day in March, with much gay and abandon, temple “Yatras” are held and processions are carried out accompanied by traditional Goan dances and modern floats parades depicting various scenes of mythology.
  • A part of the Shigmo festival, Ghodemodni or the parade of the horse riders is celebrated mostly in Fatorpa and Bicholim. Hypnotic and rhythmic music of drums and whistles accompany the martial dance, which parades down the main street, imitating horses and their riders.
  • Rombat is a procession of men in traditional dress carrying banners and umbrellas, dancing to the music of drums. Young boys wave green twigs, signifying the arrival of spring. This festival takes place on the second and third day of Shigmo. Drama festivals too form an important part of the Shigmotsav with most villages staging their own plays during the week. In addition there is the Rangapanchami (Gulal) which is celebrated on the fifth day of the Shigmotsav. A symbol of rejoicing, on this day people throw gulal on each other as a sign of full-hearted greeting.
  • Celebrated on a major scale once in every three, five, seven, or nine years at Sri Morjaee Temple in Pernem is Kalas Utsav. A week long
  Shigmotsav
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  Ghoda Modni

  • festival, people from Maharashtra and Karnataka also participate in this festivity. Similarly, the three-day festival of Gade at Mahadev Bhumika temple also attracts huge crowds.
  • People irrespective of their faith also participate in large number in the celebration of the Urs of Shah Abdullah which is celebrated at Ponda every 17th Zilhaj (February).
  • Feast of our Lady of Chandelaria at Pomburpa (February 2)
 

March-April

  • 5th Monday in Lent: Procession of all Saint of the Franciscan Third Order at Goa Velha. The only place in Christendom, other than Rome , to celebrate this feast, the Statues of the saints are taken out in a grand procession on colorfully decorated palanquins on this day. All festivities begin only after the solemn High Mass.
  • Chaitra Purnima is celebrated at Sri Mahalakshmi Temple at Panaji, and during the nine days preceding the full moon, at Sri Vithal Temple in Sanquelim. It is also widely celebrated at Nagueshi, Chandranath, Cudnem and Mashem in Canacona.
  • Gudhi Padwa :A day of great festivity and rejoicing, Gudhi Padwa heralds the advent of the Hindu new year and is considered as one of the most auspicious days by Hindus. This is one of the three and half days in the Hindu Lunar calendar, who’s every moment is considered auspicious. According to Brahmananda Purana, God Brahma created the world on this day and it was also on this day that Shri Rama had freed the people from the tyranny of Bali . To celebrate this occasion, people put up Gudhi (symbol for victory or victory flag) in their courtyards. A new cloth is tied on to the Gudhi, a metal or silver vessel is put on to it and a garland of sweets is hung on it. On this day, people get up early, put new cloths and clean their houses, decorating them with intricate rangoli designs. They offer prayers and distribute prasad comprising of tender neem leaves, tamarind, ajwain, gram-pulse and jaggery.
  • Ram Navmi : Ram Navmi or the birthday of Lord Rama is observed on the ninth day of the waxing moon of the month Chaitra (March-April). Celebrated to rejoice the birth anniversary of Lord Rama who was the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Ram Navami is a nine day festival which starts from the beginning of the Hindu New Year.

On this day, the temples are decorated and the images of Lord Rama are adorned with flowers. The day starts with chanting the Vedic mantras dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Some devotees fast for nine days while others observe a strict fast only on this day. The Ramayana

  Ram Navmi

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extolling the glory of Rama, are recited. People of all castes and creeds participate in these gatherings to listen to the stories and their explanations offered by the learned. It is further believed that listening to the story of Rama cleanses the soul while meditating and chanting his name is believed to ease the pains of life and lead one to moksha, or liberation.

Fairs are organized in various places. Lord Rama's birthday is celebrated with great happiness and is believed to bring peace of mind and happiness to the people. The biggest celebration takes place at the Partgal Math in Canacona in south Goa where thousands of devotees gather to take part in the festivities.

 

April-May

  • The home coming season for many Goan settled away from Goa . It is also the fruit season and Feni making season- a distinctive Goan aperitif that comes from cashew apples. The Feast of Jesus Nazareth and the Feast of Our Lady of Miracles is celebrated with gay abandon.
  Our Lady of Miracles
 

May-June

  • Celebrated at the beginning of the Monsoon season, Mirg is a Christian festival wherein prayers are offered to the Catholic saints born this month--St. Anthony, St. John the Baptist and St. Peter and St. Paul.
  • Lairai Jatra: One of the famous and more unusual Jatra (Hindu temple festival) celebrated in Shirgao - a small town in Bicholim taluka, east of Mapusa, the Shirgao Jatra is famous among devotees and tourists alike for the celebrated walk on hot coals raked from an enormous bonfire. Celebrated in the early part of May, thousands of devotees of Devi Lairai descend on the small town to perform their religious rituals and poojas. The festival begins early in the morning and continues throughout the
  Larai Jatra

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day. Those participating in the event take a ritual bath in special water tanks located near the temple and then walk all the way uphill to the temple as an act of penance, endurance, and worship of the Goddess.

During the night frantic dance sessions take place accompanied by rhythmic drum beats and chanting around a massive bonfire with the devotees touching the holy fire with their sticks. This continues till the wee hours of the morning when the raking of the coals begins. The devotees then await their turn to walk on the holy path of hot coals and when the ritual begins the devotees run through the hot coals carrying their sticks and shouting the name of Devi Lairai. The Jatra reaches its conclusion as the sun rises in the distant hills.

June-July

  • The monsoon feasts of St Anthony (June 13), Sao Joao (24) and Saints Peter and Paul (June 29) which are celebrated with traditional fervour and pomp at Siolim and Caranzalim.
  • Chikhalkaka: An unusual festival that is celebrated only in the small town of Marcel , Chikhalkaka (Mud Festival) is a festival that is celebrated on the 11th day of the Hindu lunar month of Aashadh (June–July). A collection of various games that Lord Krishna is supposed to have played in his childhood, Chikhalkaka is about getting close to Mother Earth, and is celebrated when Goa ’s open spaces are full of slush due to heavy rains.
 

July- August

  • Gokul Ashtami or Janmashtami as it is more popularly known is celebrated as per the Hindu calendar and it usually falls on the 8th day of the dark half of the month of 'Bhadrapada' i.e August-September as per the Julain calendar. The birthday of Lord Krishna, Gokulashtami is a community celebration whereby people visit the local Krishna temples, which are specially decorated and lit for the occasion. A special ritual of the day is enacted by the local youth who form human pyramid to reach the pot full of curds tied to a rope high above the road and break it. Janamashtami also marks the beginning of Goa 's harvest festival. At Narve village in Bicholim, people gather for pilgrimage from far and wide.
  Gokul Ashtmi


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  • Nag Panchami: Nag Panchami is a festival that is celebrated in the honour of the Snake God- Shesha Nag. In Hindu mythology, snakes have a special significance- the thousand-headed snake Ananta is Vishnu's couch and also holds up the earth, while snakes play an ornamental role in the case of Shiva. According to the Bhavishya Purana, when men bathe the snakes with milk on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of Shravan, they ensure freedom from danger for their families.
    Believed to be one of the most auspicious days of the entire year, Nag Panchami is celebrated with much gusto during the monsoon season
  Nag Panchmi

 

 
(July/August). On this day, people visit the temples specially dedicated
On this day, people visit the temples specially dedicated to snakes and worship them. In the rural areas, the day generally begins with the pooja of a mud replica of a snake. Then there could be singing of "artis" by the men, while the women dance the exuberant "fugddi". Sometimes, a small pot of milk with some flowers is placed near the holes and if a snake actually drinks the milk, it is considered to be extremely lucky for the devotee. The traditional Goan sweet called "patolleo" is made on this day and the people generally abstain from ploughing or digging in the field as a symbolic gesture of protecting the snakes.
  • Raksha Bhandan: One of the most popular festivals that is eagerly waited by people of all ages is Raksha Bhandan -a festival that celebrates the love and affection between brothers and sisters. Celebrated every year on the full-moon day in the month of Shravan (July-August), Raksha Bandhan offers a unique opportunity to brothers and sisters to express and commemorate their loving memories, loyalty, closeness, trust and friendship towards each other.

    “Raksha” means protection, and “Bandhan” means bond and, when a sister ties a sacred piece of thread (Known as Rakhi or 'Raksha-Sutra')
  Raksha Bandhan

 

 
on the wrist of their brothers she signifies her loving attachment to him and the brother by extending his wrist forward signifies his hand of protection.

From Goddess Lakshmi tying a rakhi on the hand of Bali- the demon King to that of Draupadi and Krishna; from Puru accepting Alexander the Great’s wife as his sister to the widowed queen Rani Karnawati of Chittor sending a rakhi to Emperor Humayun to help her save the honor of the Rajputs Ladies, there are many stories in both Indian mythology and history that speaks of the love between a brother and sister.

For Raksha Bandhan, girls make it a point to make or buy the best possible rakhis for their brothers. They busy themselves with the preparation of traditional sweets and dishes. After an early bath and worshipping God, the sister offers “aarti” to her brother and ties the sacred thread on his wrist. The sister adorns her brother’s forehead with the traditional tilak (vermilion). The brother gives his sister a gift after she ties the rakhi. The gift is symbolic of the brother’s blessings to his sister
 
  • August- September

    • The Festival of Novidades: Offering of first sheaves of rice crop to the head of State
    • The month of August- September sees a lot of festivities associated with harvest. Both Hindu and Christian festivals are celebrated. While the Hindus celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi, many Goans return home to celebrate the Christian festival of Novidade wherein the first offering is made to the church and the paddy is specially blessed. No farmer, will harvest his rice crop before it is offered in a ceremony called 'Novidade' in which the parish priest himself harvests sheaf of rice and returns with it
  Raksha Bandhan


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to the Church.  Traditionally the village of Taligao has the privilege of the first harvest. A festival of joy and jubilation, both music and dance are a part of the festivities
  • Bonderam Festival: On the fourth Saturday of August every year, a festive spirit engulfs the small island of Divar , for this is the day when the feast of Bonderam is celebrated. On the day, a carnival ambience is created and boys and girls wielding "fotashes" (a toy weapon of bamboo stem) engage themselves in mock battles whereby they try to knock down an offending flag of their rivals. A melodious music drifts throughout the village and gaily colored floats accompanied by colorfully dressed youngsters make a pretty picture.
  Bonderam Feastival
 
  • September-October

    The festival of Navarati (nine nights), which is associated with Victory of Lord Rama’s over the demon king Ravana culminates in the grand festival of Dusshera.  One of the major festivals of the Hindus the Sri Bhagavati Temple in Pernem has a fortnight's festivities on the occasion while special celebrations for Navaratar Utsav are held at Shantadurga, Nagueshi, Mahalakshmi and Ramnath Temples at Ponda and at the Kalika Devi Temples in Kasarpal. The Dhangar Dance, which is a dance of worship, is also performed during this festival.


    For the Christians, the Fama de Menino Jesus is a time to relax and

 

 

 
enjoy themselves. The festivities start at eight in the morning to extend until nine in the evening. On the fama day, the miraculous image of Infant Jesus is specially brought down from the left side altar of the church, for public veneration and umao (kissing).
 
  • October-November  

    • Deepawali: One of the most popular and colorful festival of the Hindus, Deepawali or the festival of lights is widely celebrated all over Goa by people of all ages, religion and creed. One this day, a festive bonhomie prevails all over the country, people give expression to their happiness by decorating their houses, lighting earthen diyas (lamps), bursting fire crackers and inviting the near and dear ones to their households for partaking in the sumptuous feast.  For the Hindus, the lighting of lamps is a way of paying obeisance to god for attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace, valor and fame. The festival is also celebrated in the hon-
  Deepawali

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our of Lakshmi-the goddess of wealth and prosperity.

Food & Cultural Festival: A 5-day festival held at Miramar beach close to Panaji in November with food stalls offering a rich experience of Goan Recipes, accompanied by Cultural entertainment programs and various competitions.
 
  • November-December  

    • Kejagiri Purnima: Celebrated on the full moon following Dusshera , special celebrations are organized in Ponda to mark this auspicious day.
    • Malni Purnima: It is the festivals at Sri Devaki Krishna Temple at Marcel.
    • Jatra: The annual Jatra of Shri Shantadurga Kunkoliemkarin at Fatorpa in Quepem is celebrated with much gay and abandon by thousands of people to flock to this temple to participate in this festivities.
    • Datta Jayanti: It is celebrated as the annual festival at Shri Datta
  Feast of Our Lady Rosary

 

 
  • Temple at Dattawadi,Sanquelim.
  • Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary draws thousands of faithful to Goa to participate in the religious event
  • Feast of St. Francis Xavier/ St. Francis Day: The feast of St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of Goa , is celebrated every year on December 3. On this day, ceremonies are held to honor his death. The mummified body of St. Francis Xavier is enshrined in a silver casket in one of the chapels of Church of Bom Jesus in Velho Goa that was built in 1605 by the Jesuits. The body of the Saint is exposed to public once every ten years and pilgrims from all over the world line up to kiss the relics of St. Francis Xavier and pay homage
  • Christmas, all over Goa with the customary Midnight Mass on gatherings and special Christmas Eve and with prayers gathering and special Christmas festivals. A Goan will leave his front door open during the festival as a gesture of generosity toward all who may visit his home.
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  Christmas
 

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