Goa: A cultural feast – A Goa Shigmo Abstract by Express Travel World

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Long synonymous as the land of sea, surf and sand Goa is aggressively marketing other facets like heritage, culture and nature to combine with the Go Goa 365 Days campaign launched a couple of years ago. Goa has a unique blend of socio-religious culture and the Goan calendar is marked with several feasts and festivals. The tourism department of Goa has focused on quite a few local feasts and festivals turning them into tourist attractions. Goa Carnival, is a three day event celebrated two days after Easter through out the state and is peppered with parades, music dance etc. Other feasts and festivals are Feast of Three Kings at Reis Magos, Cuelim; the Feast of St Francis Xavier in December, Sao Joao Festival, feast of St John the Baptist celebrated throughout the state on June 24, Shigmo, the Goan version of Holi celebration in month of February/March and several others. Apart from this the Kala Academy (Academy of Indian Culture and Performing Art) celebrate various fairs and festivals through the year including five day long Food Festival in November.

Shigmo is a state festival where Goa erupts in a riot of colour, as native spring celebrations coincide with religious rituals. While in olden days Shigmo was mainly celebrated in the villages, over the years it made an advent even in the cities. The modern day Shigmo offers a colourful urban spectacle of this vibrant festival in the form of parade of gigantic floats in the different cities of Goa, beginning with Ponda. The painstakingly and elaborately designed floats or tableaus usually depict occurrences from the Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Behind these floats, hundreds of colourfully attired dancers take to the streets to the beat of `dhol,’ `taasha,’ `kasale,’ `ghumot,’ `jaghant,’ and different other ethnic percussion instruments.

Various traditional dances from different corners of Goa like the Jagor (dance on stilts), Goff (colouful ribbon dance), Ghodde Modni (cavalry dance), Samayi (brass lamp dance), Morulo (peacock dance), Ranamale (dance drama from the Ramayana) and many more are showcased during these floats parades.

Purnima or the full moon day of the Hindu month of Phalgun (usually between March) is observed as the first day of the five-day Shigmo Festival in Goa, which is celebrated as Holi in northern India. At midnight on the eve of the first day a branch of an areca, cocum, or banana tree, which represents the demon is carried in a procession and handled as roughly as possible until it is burnt in a huge bon fire at a customary place in the wee hours of the morning. After this begins five days of gaiety filled with cultural and religious tradition. Shigmo is basically a secular festival, but like most things in Goa, religion has come to be associated with it over the years. It used to be a farmer`s festival, but eventually martial influences depicting the exploits of the Ranes over the Portuguese also came to be part of the festivities.

The Fifth day of Shigmo, called Rang Panchami or day of colours is celebrated by groups of revelers engaging in sham fights, squirting coloured water from bamboo syringes at one another. They also go around smearing one another’s faces with wet colour. The celebrations then spill over on to the streets as they dance to the beat of different types of percussion instruments. It is believed that Shigmo like Holi, originated from the Aryans, because the festival is conducted with fire worship. Various rituals are performed in the temples in different parts of Goa, offering appeasement to the chief deity and then the smaller deities protecting various village boundaries meant to keep the village safe from any evil, calamities or epidemics in the year ahead. Hence the rituals continue, till Gudi Padwa, the Hindu New Year.

Courtesy: Express TravelWorld

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