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There are hundreds of Gods and Goddesses in Goa which are worshiped with full devotion. Being an erstwhile Portuguese colony, Goan organize many Christian festivals. These are very popular in Goa and even tourists throughout the world come to participate in some of these festivals. These festivals include Feast of three kings, Christmas, Colva Fama, Margao Feast, Konsachem Fest and Sao Jao. Fun-loving Goans have numerous other celebrations also. These include Carnival, Shigmo, Sea Food Festival, Kesarbai Kerkar Music Festival and Goa Heritage Festival. Your participation in these celebrations will be a memorable experience.


Goa Carnival

Carrnival or 'Carnem Levare' is a Portuguese word which means 'to take away meat' means putting away flesh. It is annual four day celebration sweeping Goa off its feet. Goa's well-known festival has been celebrated since the 18th century. Stated for its feasting-drinking-merrymaking party just before the 40 days of Lent; a time of chastity and devotement. Huge parades through the cities are formulated with bands, floats and dances and balls in the evenings. The final day concludes with the famous Red-and-Black dance held by the Clube Nacional in Panjim.

This unique and exclusive festive is heralded in February. For three days and nights the streets come alive with colour. Held in mid February, the week long event is a time for lively processions, floats, the strumming of guitars, exclusive dances and of non-stop party.

The origin of carnival was due to the voluptuous feasts of ancient Rome and Greece. It made its emergence in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies, where it was transmuted into the very Latin singing-dancing-drinking turns. The carnival is governed by King Momo, who on the opening day orders his subjects to party. The carnival signifies the fun-loving culture that is symbol of Goa. It was initiated by the erstwhile rulers as a wild celebration in which flour, eggs, oranges, lemons, mud, sand-filled gloves along with dirty water, various liquids and glue were targeted at passersby. Fierce battles were waged in the streets, with eggs, wax lemons and beans. The carnival in Goa still remains the root of the pristine`. A King of Chaos is elected, called King "Momo". He controls over the three-day festivities, which attract visitors from all over India and abroad. Perhaps this was done to abandon the old and the dirty before the Lenten fast.

Street Plays, songs, dances and the merrymaking people perform before a fascinating and responsive audience. They compose and rehearse short plays inclusive of song, music and dance to be displayed during the carnival. The plays are generally related to history and are exhibited only by men. They perform the roles of women as well and are dressed in bright colorful costumes. The contestants wear colorful costumes and elaborate masks. They form the head of a parade of colorful and attractive troupes of masked whoopees dressed in gorgeous attires sing and dance in a playful music that is mostly performed live. The best groups are given handsome prizes. In the fun-filled ambience, people smear color on each other, instead of the flour, eggs, fruit and water that was used in past times. These celebrations, cultural functions and competitions are judged by specially selected people. King Momo distributes the prizes to the winners.

In Goan villages, however, the festivities have a natural flavor. Though celebrated by the Christian population of Goa, the carnival's only purpose to Christianity is that it is celebrated before Lent. The festival today has no religious buzz as such as is not celebrated anywhere than in India.

Feast of the Three Kings

The small hamlet of Reis Magos is positioned on banks of the Mandovi river and is home to two famous landmarks of Goa - the Reis Magos Fort and the Reis Magos Church. It is also one of only three places in Goa, where the spectacular Feast of the Three Wise Men is held. This great feast is celebrated in The Church Of Our Lady Of The Mount in Old Goa and is popularly called as the Festa Dos Reis or The Epiphany Day. The Lady of Mount is a symbol of protection believed to grant people's wishes for their children. The most important aspect of this feast is that although being a Christian festival, it is celebrated by Hindus with equal zeal and passion.

The festival continues for nine days (ending on 6th Jan) in January. There is a procession of young boys decked out as the Three Kings to the Franciscan chapel of Reis Magos, near Panjim on the north bank of Mandovi. On the last day three young boys dressed as kings, reach the chapel after driving to different paths and offer the Lady of Mount everything they possess. The rituals are proceeded by a fair where you can shop for a whole range of items ranging from Goan meal to copper and brassware, furniture, clothes, toys, trinkets, sweetmeats, glass bangles and spices of different variety.

Some historians state that the site now possessed by the Chapel of Remedios was earlier the site of a Hindu temple. May be that's the reason why a large number of Hindu devotees make the yearly pilgrimage visit to the Mount to worship the Madonna, bringing with them offerings of flowers and candles.

According to a legend another slab on a nearby hill is clearly stamped with one adult and two baby footprints together. This is carved out of the rock signifying the spot where the Virgin rested with the Infant while the horse that brought them quelled its thirst before moving to Hill of Remedies where, she chose to remain.

This day is started with massive prayers and is continued by fun and grandiose feasting. It is a tribute to the three kings who came with gifts to see the Lord in his infant stage. The demanding bells call the faithful devotees to prayer and they visit the shrine in a non-stop stream. The gushing crowd flocks to the hill's edge to watch the three kings from three different routes. Climbing on the white horses, they attire in royal garments, embroidered in gold, move on their way and a whole procession of relatives, friends enjoy the spectacular view.

Each procession is started by a loud music of band and crackers bursting all the way. The crowd in a mood of merriment hails the Magi with a loud cheering. After the ceremony, they are led down with the same traditional ceremony with which they were brought up the hill. The whole picturesque scene is a colorful dream of ancient pomp sparkle and radiance. Presently, there is an excellent road curving up its way up the steep hill right to the door of the shrine, making the climb possible by car. Still, most of the devotees opt to lift upto the hill. Many come to offer their thanks for accomplishing their wishes.


The unique Goan aroma has never failed to surprise us by the grandiose celebrations of their festivals. Today, Christmas is celebrated on a grand-scale all over the world especially Christmas in Goa, is not only about celebrations and fun, its also about meeting and caring about your family members and loved ones. People from different pockets of India and all over the world dwell to this seductive place to enjoy Christmas life in a different way.

Celebrations of Christmas festival begin on the eve of Christmas on 24th of December and proceed till New Year's Day. Christians in Goa mark the birth of Lord Jesus Christ on Christmas Day by participating in prayers organized in churches. Celebrations of Christmas are showed by carols, cakes, candles and decoration of Christmas Tree. The festivities for Christmas lasts for ten days from December 24 th to January 1, the New Year day. Prayers, plays, parties, carols and fun filled get togethers are a part of Christmas festivities. Cakes, Christmas trees, gifts and Santa Claus are also an inseparable attractions of Christmas festival.

The history of Christmas dates back over 4000 years, as the various custom and tradition linked with the festival of Christmas, were celebrated centuries before the birth of Christ. The exact day of the Christ child's birth has never been nailed. It has been famed since the year 98 AD. In 137 AD the Bishop of Rome ordered the birthday of the Christ Child celebrated as an earnest feast. In 350 AD another Bishop of Rome, Julius I, choose December 25th as an honouring of Christmas.

A lot of actions happen all around the churches and homes. Colourful balls, decorated Christmas trees, delicious cakes and Santa Claus moving around in the streets distributing goodies to the children form the main attractions of the festival.

Tourists as well as the locals engross themselves in music, dance and the never-ending spirit. All roads and especially the bewitching beaches of Goa are clustered by large groups of people enjoying every moment of the festival with drinks, music and merriment. Costumed in the finest attires, everyone loves to participate in this great festivity. Beaches and roads are covered with people, dressed in the best of clothes. Dance and music are is an inbuilt part of the celebrations. So, people dance all through the night and offer prayers in the churches in morning. Goan seafood is sure to satisfy with all the special Goan dishes. Stalls cater to aerated drinks, alcoholic beverages, ice-creams and snacks. Cultural programmes and fire works exhibits are also showed.

Easter/Good Friday

Initially called as 'God's Friday', the present aspect is believed to have emerged in the 10th or 11th century On Good Friday, a cross, stands for the one on which Jesus was crucified, is revealed in many churches. It is believed that Jesus rose from his grave on the following Sunday, which is celebrated as Easter. The rituals for Good Friday start on the leading Thursday. A feast representing the last supper of Christ is held on Thursday night. The end of this meal displays the beginning of the fast for Easter. Good Friday is a day of sincere respect and awe among Goan Catholics.

Good Friday is a special day celebrated by the Christians. It falls towards the end of the Holy Week and marks Jesus's resurrection. Good Friday occurs between the March 20th and April 23rd for the decade (2001 to 2010). The most popular church of Panaji, the church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, is elegantly decorated and thousands of people gather there to pay tributes and take part in the events going on in the church.

Earlier, only Easter Sunday was celebrated as a holy day by the Christian Church. By the fourth century, each day of the week preceding Easter were established as holy days including Good Friday. It is believed that "Good" represents the good gift of salvation brought forth by martyrdom. From the earliest times the Christians kept every Friday as a feast day. In the Eastern orthodox Churches, it is known as the "Great Friday".

Innumerable Goan Catholics flock in the Panjim Church of 'Mary Immaculate Conception' to listen to mass and participate in the Way of the Cross. During the afternoon sermon, the priests recount the agonies that Jesus Christ took upon himself for the sake of humanness. The sermons in konkani language attract a large crowd standing on the threshold are attired in formal clothes. After the mass, the rood is uncovered before the crowd for reverence. Panjim attracts the largest crowd in Goa. A large wooden cross carrying an image of Jesus is taken from the church and moved through the streets of the town. It is acquitted by the clergymen, while the crowd abides by two parallel lines in front of and at back of the statue, some weeping and all with very sedate faces.

The ones who do not participate are free to have a look of the procession from the roadside. Sober music played by a band accompanies the procession, which slowly turns its way through the main streets in Panjim before returning back to the church. The flock and procession occur in every church in Goa, but the one in Panjim draws the biggest crowd. Hence, Good Friday is observed as a day of sorrow, grieving and fasting.


The Goan version of Holi is celebrated with big parades and crowds; drum and dance groups vie and huge blows threaten to bring down telegraph wires and rush towarsds through streets in a festive mood. During this festival period famous temple Yatras are held. Processions are carried out at temples by throwing colour and dancing with god and goddess umbrellas and Dindi. This festival celebration is organized in different cities to attract tourists. Processions are carried out in cities with conventional Goan dances and modern drifts. People are esteemed for best performance in the procession.

This festival is celebrated around March each year is linked to the lunar-based Hindu and comes not far from Carnival festival, which is also celebrated before the Catholic season of Lent. Shigmo begins some five days before the full-moon day of the Indian calendar's month of the Phalguna and ends on the full-moon day in the old areas of Goa. The celebrations presumes a big proportion in Panaji, Mapusa, Vasco-da-Gama and Margao

Shigmo in Goa is fundamentally a festival of the masses. It is celebrated all over India, though it is celebrated under different names and in different ways in various parts of the country. Like in Goa it is famed as festival of farewell to winter celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalguna (March), the last month of the Hindu calendar. As Goa has always been a land of temples, this festive begins with Naman. In Goa, which has always been land of temples, Shigmo begins with Naman or collective bowing of villagers from 9th moon day to full-moon day. During all these days, they are suppose to avoid non-vegetarian food and intoxicants. And starting from the 11th Moon day to the 15th moon day, various village groups flock in their most colorful attires, commence with festive mood with multi-colored torans, flags and Dwajas.

The people beat drums and blow flutes to assemble at the village temples and then dance in the temple court yard singing various folk songs. On the 5th day, comes the real day of jubilation. It is known as "Rang Panchami" is exercised variously at various places. The main function of the day, however, is the lush use of 'Gulal' or red-powder. Its a mark of trump, when people throw it on each other as an indication of open-hearted greeting. The processions are also held followed by a series of Kunbi Folk-Dances performed by village tribal women, dressed up in colourful sarees, are simply irresistible. Regional dances from the Northern and Southern (counties) of Goa also find manifestation during Shigmo.

Countless men march on the beats of the drums and others dance with umbrellas holding in their hands. Both men and women attired in beautiful costumes march and represent various deities. This Goan Shigmo Parade can be remembered as a life-long experience.

Hindu Festivals

Ganesh Chaturthi

It's the time when most of the Goans return to their ancestral villages and homes. Celebrated during August-September, the Ganesh Chaturthi is held to mark the birthday of Lord Ganesh, the elephant god. The pomp and show on the occasion is surely something to experience. Owing to Goa's close proximity to the state of Maharashtra, the festival takes on a much lively scene. People from all over the state take part and celebrate the festival with their relatives, family and friends.


Meaning the 'festival of lights', Diwali is celebrated all across the country with great zeal and fervour. Even in Goa, the festival offers a lot of festive charm for travellers to soak up. People from all over the state, regardless of their caste and creed, join in the festivities and exchange greetings and blessings. The festival recollects the memories of Lord Rama's victory over demon king Ravana. Throughout the state, giant effigies of Narakasur (as Ravana is famously known) are burnt to mark the victory of good over evil.


The festival of Dusshra is another important religious festival in Goa, preceding the festival of Diwali. In the northern parts of India, Dussehra celebrations are held separately. However, in the state of Goa, both Dussehra and Diwali are held simultaneously as the images of Narakasur are burnt all over.


Falling around the month of March or April, Holi is a celebration of colours. Smearing one another with bright colours and drenching in colurful water creates a magnificent panorama, with both the young and the young at heart participating. The fervour and gaiety of people is not limited to their home or house, but even the streets come alive with numerous colours.

Raksha Bandhan

Locally known as Rakhi, the festival of Raksha Bandhan is one of the most emotional festivals of the Hindus. It strengthens the brother-sister bond as girls tie colourful bands round the wrists of their brothers. In return, the brother offers gifts and promises to protect here against any harm or evil influences that might arise at any point of time. The sister feels a great sense of security in her life. The festival falls in the month of August.

Ram Navami

The festival of Ram Navami occurs in March-April. It marks the birth anniversary of Lord Rama who is considered to be the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It begins on the first day of the Hindu New Year and continues for nine long days. Fairs are held in different parts of the state. Particularly in South Goa, the festival is celebrated on a grand scale.
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