Festivals in Goa
Goa, although known for it’s flourishing tourism and high impact of western ideas, it does have a diverse, strong and rich culture. This small state of India has seen various cultures and ideas which have influenced Goa over various centuries. One of the most prominent influenced was that of the Portuguese colonization. The merger of a number of Hindu and Christian traditions can be seen, which are unique of Goa. Starting from the January, right through December, a number of festivals are celebrated in Goa with a lot of enthusiasm and reverence.
Religious Festivals in Goa
There are numerous festivals throughout Goa during the whole year. Churches celebrate feasts of their patron saints every year and Temples celebrate Jatra which is a celebration to the God of that particular Temple. Owing to the large number of Churches and Temples in Goa, the number of festivals in Goa are also large.
Winter Festivals in Goa
Festivals in Goa in November
Marathi and Konkani Drama / Tiatr Festival
Held at Kala academy, Panaji in Goa during the months of November and December, these festivals aim to promoting linguistic cultures through dramas and plays. This festival is of cultural importance and significance as it attracts a large number of people and helps to showcase their respective cultures.
Diwali / Deepavali
Only second to Ganesh Chaturthi, this festival of lights marks the triumph of good over evil. Just as in the rest of the country, Lamps are lit all over the house and places of worship to mark this solemn occasion.
Food and Cultural Festival
This festival is celebrated on any of the beaches of Goa to promote Goan cuisine and Culture. It is held during November and December owing to the peak season time. There is also a showcase of Goan entertainment in the form of music, plays and dramas.
Festivals in Goa in December
December is the month when the season is in full swing and reaches its peak. Tourists from the whole world flock to Goa during this time.
Feast of St. Francis Xavier
St. Francis Xavier is the patron saint of Goa and is revered throughout the world. Thousands of pilgrims and tourists rush to see his relics. Every 10 years his body is exposed for the public to see and venerate. The novenas of this saint is held before the feast, every day large crowds come for these novenas from all over Goa. A sale is also organised outside the church selling foods and other items. Joy rides are also run during the novenas and the feast.
All over the world, 25th December is celebrated as Christmas. On this day, the Birth of Jesus Christ is commemorated and in Goa it is highly commercialized. A large number of dances are organised in various venues throughout Goa. Firecrackers and music are heard throughout the state. Goans can be seen going for mass on Christmas eve at midnight and in the morning on Christmas day. Spirits are high and people are in good moods during this festive season.
New Year’s Eve
The 31st of December in Goa is a time for partying through the night till morning to celebrate the New Year. Churches celebrate the midnight mass followed by dances. Drinks are easily available and sold in plenty during this time.
Music Festivals in Goa
December and January in Goa is well known for its full fledged music festivals ranging from Sunburn, the globe-wide famous music festival, to WindSong, a music festival showcasing Indian and Indie music. A number of music festivals like Live from the Console, Groove temple, Great Live Music and Oktoberfest (held in October, obviously!) are some of the famous music festivals hosted on Goan soil.
Festivals in Goa in January
New Year in Goa
The New Year in Goa is ushered in with a bang, literally! Firecrackers rock this tiny state right at the stroke of midnight on the 1st of January. New Year parties are held at nearly all the party venues throughout the state. One of the largest dances held in North Goa are at Emerald Lawns, other parties rage on at various clubs along the coast till the wee hours of the morning. Every year, Goa plays host to thousands of tourists flocking in to celebrate at some of the wildest New Year parties. Other than the parties, according to Goan traditions, people go to the church for the midnight mass at all the major churches throughout Goa.
The Feast of The Three Kings
Although this feast is a local feast, it is celebrated as one of the biggest festivals in Goa. On the 6th of January, three villages, namely, Reis Mago, Cansaulim and Chandor play host to this festival. The famous tradition during the festivities is the play in which three local boys dress up like the three kings to offer gifts to Jesus.
Just like all the other states in India, Goa also celebrates Republic Day with Patriotism. The Indian tri-colour is proudly displayed on cars, buildings and houses. Although not celebrated as in Delhi, reverence to this day can be seen in Goa.
Held towards the end January for the past eight years, this Grape Festival, called ‘Grape Escapade’. This festival brings together a large number of vineyard and winery owners. A large number of hoteliers and wine enthusiasts attend this festival held at the Inox courtyard, to taste some of the most exquisite wines. This is a good platform for B2B and B2C relations to emerge.
Summer Festivals in Goa
Festivals in Goa in February / March
Goa, since time immemorial has always been considered as a romantic place to celebrate a honeymoon or to get married. Well, the lover’s day of 14th February is no different. Couples from all over, come to Goa to celebrate this day. Roses, Cards and couples are a common sight to see on this day. Gift shops and flower boutiques are full of Valentine’s day red, weeks before the big day. Dances are organised all over Goa, with discounted rates for couples and special offers on this day. On the 14th of February every year, Romance is in the air in Goa.
Urs of Shah Abdullah
This Muslim festival is celebrated to commemorate the death of the Muslim saint, Urs. The festivities usually include the singing of devotional Muslim songs in his honour.
The festival of colours is one of the biggest festivals in India and is celebrated in the month of February.. The tiny coastal state of Goa also celebrates Holi with a lot of colour, joy and laughter. The Temples of the South celebrate this with the most enthusiasm. During this festival, the celebrators wait on the roads and through colours at random people who cross on bikes. There is a feeling of unity and celebration in the air.
This festival in Goa is celebrated for the masses, here people celebrate the last month of the hindu calendar and wear some of the most colourful clothes. Parades are held in Mapusa, Panaji and Ponda with floats that are brightly lit up. This festival takes place usually a week after holi towards the end of February.
Carnival in Goa
The carnival in Goa is one of the biggest and colourful festivals in Goa which attracts a large number of tourists to Goa. Just like the carnival in Brazil, this carnival also has a procession of floats of different types and sizes. Over the past few years the carnival has grown to be more commercial. This 3 day festival is held just before the season of lent to promote a spirit of fun and entertainment just before the season of abstinence and fasting. It is usually held in the three major towns of goa, namely, Panaji, Mapusa and Margao. Sometimes it is also held at Calangute and Candolim. This festival is a must see sight in Goa.
All over India, this day is offered to Shiva when people flock to the temples of Lord Shiva. The people fast and eat only specific foods on that day. March 10th is offered to Lord Shiva by Hindus all over India and is celebrated with a great deal of enthusiasm.
Festivals in Goa in April
Good Friday and Easter
The dates of Easter change every year, however it invariably falls either in the month of March or in the month of April. On these days, Christians from all over Goa honour the death of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and consequently the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Good Friday is a day of solemnity among Christians and is observed as a day of fasting and abstinence. Easter is celebrated with pomp and splendour as it ends the 40 days of lent which is observed as days of penance. Goan festivities include games like ‘breaking the coconut’, organising dances and going for tiatrs (Goan Theatre).
Beach Bonanza and Youth Fleet
From mid-April onwards, beaches of Colva become a spot for small festivities like live music, dancing and various entertainment. These festivities are held on consecutive Sundays. This is the Beach Bonanza, the Youth Fleet is just like the Beach Bonanza, but its held on the beach of Calangute.
Festivals in Goa in May / June
Sirigao in Bicholim Taluka celebrates this festival which is indigenous of Goan culture. Igitun Chalne literally means fire walking and at midnight, the devotees of Goddess Lairaya walk on red hot coals to prove their devotion.
Goa Statehood Day
May 30th is celebrated as the day on which Goa got its statehood as the 25th state of the Indian peninsular. On this day, patriotism to the state and to the country as a whole is displayed. Various essay competitions and state held activities take place on this day.
Feast of St. Anthony
An interesting tradition in Goa during this feast is lowering the statue of St. Anthony in to the family well incase the rains have not yet arrived. This feast is celebrated on the 13th of June. An important fact is that it has a special significance in Goa as it St. Anthony is the national saint of Portugal.
Feast of St. John the Baptist
Called San Jao in Konkani, the local language, this festival is one that usually raises the spirits of all Goans as drinks a readily available. According to tradition, this feast marks the start of the monsoons and the wells are generally filled with water. The locals jump into the wells and the owner of the wells provide local made alcohol drinks like fenny and urak. Crowns made from leaves and flowers are worn by these festive merry makers. Now a days, instead of wells, the hoteliers keep their gates open on this day for the people to have a splash in their swimming pools. Youth roaming on bikes, completely drenched wearing crowns of leaves and flowers is a common sight in Goa on the 20th of June every year.
Feast of St. Peter & Paul
Goa is well known for its large fishing community and a large population of fishing enthusiasts. This feast marks a day of celebration for this large fishing community. After the feast mass, all the fisherfolks tie their boats together to create a stage in the water, here plays, songs and dances are held which can be watched from the shores of the river. This is held on the 29th of June and is important especially to those of the Bardez Taluka.
Monsoon Festivals in Goa
Feasts in Goa in August
August has a number of national holidays and festivals that are celebrated all over India. This increases the number of Indian Tourists coming to Goa and in turn leads to a number of Non-Goan festivals also celebrated here.
Firecrackers are fired and the Indian tricolour flies high in nearly every part of Goa. Cars from all over India are seen on the streets of Goa sporting the Indian flag. A number of activities are held at different parts of the state to celebrate this day. Goans do not have strong feelings to this day as Goa did not get freedom from foreign rule on this day, but still it is celebrated with the rest of the brother states.
Feast of St. Lawrence
Prior to this feast, the government puts a ban on commercial fishing throughout Goa as it is the breeding season of the fish. The feast of St. Lawrence marks the end of that ban. Yet another feast for the fisherfolks of Goa to celebrate. The sea is blessed during the high mass of the feast and special prayers offered for those in the fishing industry.
Towards the end of August, this festival of Bonderam is held to commemorate the feuds which used to take place on the island of Divar. During the Portuguese rule, the two wards of Divar would fight each other for possession of property, this led to battles and bloodshed. The Portuguese then demarcated the two wards using colourful flags. Over the years this feud has simmered down and this festival has arose to remember those bad old days. Usually a mock battle is held with the actors using bamboo sticks as prop weapons. Floats and processions are also organised throughout this island just like the carnival. People from all over come to see this spectacle.
As an agricultural state as well, Goa celebrates Navidades on the 24th of August to mark the offerings of the first sheaves of rice. This festival is of great importance among the various festivals held in the agricultural community of Goa.
Festivals in Goa in September / October
Towards the end of September and the beginning of October, the season in Goa is open, especially to foreign tourist. Prices rise and crowds increase. But the festivals held during this time is of great commercial and cultural significance.
Celebrated all over India as a three-day festival to Lord Ganesha, Goa also celebrates this festival with great enthusiasm. Certain traditions in Goa is unique to the rest of India, like the sweets made here. The processions and statues are similar to those in other parts of India where clay statues of Ganesha are submerged in water bodies.
Fama se Menino Jesus
Within the Church of our Lady of Mercy at Colva, resides a statue of the Miraculous image of the infant Jesus. This feast is held on the second Monday of October.
In Goa, this day is celebrated with a large number of tourists. It marks the birth of the father of the Indian nation. As a sign of respect, this day is a dry day throughout India, including Goa, ie no alcohol is sold or served on this day.
Dussehra / Dasara Utsav
This festival is a ten day long festival celebrated by Hindus. In Goa a puja is held at the place of work where machinery, tools, vehicles and other such equipment which is used for work is cleaned, garlanded and worshipped.
Goa has a large number of festivals which celebrated specific to each locality in Goa. Each village celebrates its own festivals unique to its traditions and cultures. Any time of the year, the celebration of different festivals are witnessed in its own Goan styled uniqueness.