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GoaCentral > About Goa > Goa's cultural heritage

Goa's cultural heritage

Goa’s cultural traditions literally stretch back to the dawn of civilization. Here is an introduction to Goa's rich cultural heritage. Click on for more...


Music and Dance


List of Christian Festivals

List of Hindu Festivals

Arts and Crafts

The Goa Kala Academy The future  


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Despite successive onslaughts and the ravages of alien occupation, Goa’s cultural traditions have  displayed amazing resilience with stimulation by every fresh challenge. To a large extent, Goa’s cultural heritage was enriched by a slow but unremitting process of absorption and assimilation of the more congenial features of this alien culture. The focal point being the symbiosis of Latin and local cultural strains. Click on for more...


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Music and Dance

A Goan is said to be born with music in his blood and music literally accompanies him from the cradle to the grave. Musical traditions run in whole generations. Music itself runs the entire gamut of  sonic versatility; from the rustic Dhangar  ( Shepherd )  playing and flutes to sophisticated tabla and sitar or violin and piano soloist thrilling large audiences in concert halls. Music is the time seller at all major social events-feasts, festivals, “zatras”, and marriages.

Goan folk music has a lively rhythm and the folk-dances a rugged vitality.  The musical accompaniment for both folk songs and the folk dances is provided by a diversity of musical instruments – Ghumats, Dhols, Cymbals (Drums), Flutes, Harmonium, Violins and Guitars. The favorite, however, seems to be the Ghumat. No description in writing can ever do full justice to these dynamic folk art forms. Watching a live performance can elicit to a certain degree its emotional content, rhythmic charm, the colorful variety and vitality.

Freedom  brought about a cultural renaissance in Goa along with providing a fresh impetus to the classic literature and fine arts and a revival of the folk arts. Once again the almost forgotten folk dances Dhalo, Fugdi, Corridinho, Mando and performing folk arts (like Khell-Tiatro), Jagar-perani and many others have come out into their own. Indeed the folk music and folk dances have crossed the borders of the state and become popular in the rest of the country during the past 25 years.

Here is a detailed description of the various dance forms of Goa.


This is a traditional folk dance performed by womenfolk of a scheduled tribal community of Goa , performed in the second half of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. 


It is a very elegant Portuguese dance, performed mainly by Goa's Catholic elite..


Dekhni incorporates the exquisite and unique fusion of Indian melody and western rhythm. A lovely damsel is usually the theme of this highly popular folk song cum dance event that is also exclusively performed by women to the beat of the "Ghumat".

Dhangar Dance

The Dhangar dance is a dance of the shepherd community of Goa , the songs and the dances represent one of the oldest folk traditions of Goa.

Fugdi & Dhalo

This dance is exclusively performed by women. These are very common dances performed at harvest times and on ceremonial occasions like the birth of a child or at a fair/festival. In "Dhalo" two parallel rows of women surge face to face towards each other to the beat of Ghumats. In "Fugdi", the women dance in a circular pattern with rhythmic swaying of bodies. An interesting variation is the “Kalashi Fugdi” of Satari taluka where the dancers blow into water pitchers.

Ghode Modni

This is a spectacular war dance that evokes the martial exploits of ancient Goans, and to a large extent the victory of the "Ranes" . The dancer is dressed in colorful headgear and typical livery with “ghungroos” or anklets attached to their feet and an effigy of a horse to their waists. They brandish swords in their hands and dance rhythmically to the sound of martial music of "dhols" and "tashas". It is very popular in the Sanquelim and Sattari areas, the stronghold of the "Ranes".


Goff involves the weaving of a multi-colored braid through skillful footwork and is danced mostly by the peasants of Cancona taluka. These folk dances are associated with spring rituals and festivities.


The Hanpet (sword dance) is a popular dance performed by two or three dancers with swords during the Shigmo festival.

Kala & Dashavatar

These dance forms are the precursors of the the modern "Tiatr".

Kumbhi Dance

It is the dance and musical heritage of the Kumbhi community.

Lamp Dance

This is traditionally performed by women  carrying brass lamps on their heads during the Shigmo festival .


It is the most popular and stylized, song and dance event that is sweetly sad in its melody and very elegantly choreographed. Young men and women gracefully weave rhythmic patterns to the beat of a “GHUMAT” and the romantic strains of the violin. The MANDO is nostalgically sung and danced wherever Goans are settled the world over . Slow and sad at the beginning, the Mando ends in the lively Bhulpod. The theme of the traditional MANDO is Love and romance, but of late there has been some innovation with a diversity of thematic subjects.


This is another dance form performed  during the Shigmo festivities by the early Goan settlers, part of Goa's backward community.


Introduced in Goa by the Kadambas, the tradition is maintained by the Christian community of Chandor (Salcete Taluka). Some dancers brandish Mussal (pestles) symbolic of the "Shivlinga", whilst others carry lit torches. The troupe performs first in public/ at the town center etc., and later goes from door to door. A dancer in the troupe is disguised as a bear in this dance. The dance is usually performed on the second day of the carnival.


There are two forms of the folk drama. The perani – jagar exclusively performed by the perani community deals with esoteric themes like creation of universe, whilst the general Jagar deals with traditional aspects of village life. The Jagar is generally considered to be the precursor of the modern theatre in Goa.


This is a part of Muslim religious festivities  performed during the 11th month of the Muslim Calendar.


This is a traditional tone setter  to all Hindu Goan festivals.


This  is a lively dance to the beat of Samel, Ghumat etc. – The participants waving sticks with their hands like Dandya dancers of Gujarat. These folk dances are associated with spring rituals and festivities.

Taranga Mel

This is also known as the banner festival and traditionally is a farmers festival.


This is a traditional dance performed with sticks, usually performed at harvest time.


The thematic subject is the mythological episode of VEERBHADRA Shiva’s son born of his matted hair. It is a typical south Indian style dance and performed once annually as part of religious rites in Ponda taluka only. The dancers brandish swords in both hands weaving patterns to the tune of ‘dholak’ and ‘tasha’ with a typical southern beat. It is also performed in Sanguem and Bicholim Talukas apart from any religious connection.


This is performed by Goa's Gauda community in a variety of styles.

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Goa is famous for its feasts and festivals. The occasion may be a harvest, a change of season, and a sacred day in the calendar or the birthday of a saint. Goans seem to thrive on festivity. There are “Zatras”, temple festivals that give great scope for folk dances and folk dramas. Annual popular dances in villages (like the famous Festa de Leques Dance) besides the major festivals of Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi and Christmas. The annual St. Francia Xavier’s Feast draws together people of all walks of life and of all communities at the historic city of Old Goa in their thousands. The fire walking ceremony witnessed by huge crowd forms the highlight of the " Sirigao Zatra” annually. The Shigmo festival is a boisterous celebration heralding spring and is matched for colorfulness and merriment only by the Carnival – that memorable three-day bust-up of euphoric frenzy.
Here is a description of some of the principal festivals of Goa.


This is the Goan version of "Holi". Dressed in colorful costumes, the dancer express joy and happiness to the accompaniment of “dhols”(huge drums), “tasha” and “kasale” (cymbals). This dance highlights Shigmo festival in Goa.


This is exciting and unique three-day non-stop extravaganza of fun, frolic, song, music and dance that is uniquely Goan. This is a Pagan festival popular in Latin American countries that were colonies of Portugal at some point in time. The Carnival is uniquely Goan and is not celebrated anywhere else in India. It is a typical Latin, song, music and dance and precedes the "Lent". The highlight of the exotic frenzy of merriment is the appointment and arrival of “KING MOMO” and his retinue to the capital city Panaji on "Fat Saturday", the eve of Carnival. They form the head of a parade of colorful floats and troupes of masked revelers attired in gorgeous costumes singing and dancing in gay abandon to lively music that is usually performed live. The best floats are given handsome prizes. The floats have in recent years been commercially sponsored. Carnival is also celebrated in the Goan countryside by the Christian populace and is called ‘Intruz’. It assumes a unique form of creative spontaneity wherein folk songs/Cantars are sung from door to door in villages by troupes of mainly Christian peasants inviting everyone to join in the celebration. Suvari – orchestral folk music regales the audience at all Hindu religious and other festivals. ‘Ranmale’, ‘Raktakala’, ‘Kala’, ‘Dashavatari’ and ‘Teatro’ are other popular types of folk drama forms.

CarnivalGoa.gif (626671 bytes)

Goa Carnival '98

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List of prominent Christian festivals or "Fest's".

Feast of the Three Kings at Reis Magos, Cansaulim and Chandor. 6th of January 
Feast of Our Lady of Candelaria at Pomburpa 2nd of February
Procession of All Saints of the Franciscan Third Order at Goa Velha; only other place it happens besides Rome. 5th Monday in Lent
Feast of Jesus Nazareth at Siridao 1st Sunday after Easter
Feast of Our Lady of Miracles at Mapusa 16 days after Easter
Feast of Sao Joao 24th of June
Feast of Novidad, offering of the First sheaves of Rice to Goa's Head of State 21st August
Fama de Menino Jesus at Colva 12th of October ( Monday) to 18th October 
Feast of Our Lady of Rosary at Navelim 3rd Wednesday of November
Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Goencho Saib at Old Goa 3rd December
Feast of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception at Panaji and Margao 8th December
Christmas 25th December

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List of prominent Hindu Festivals including "Jatra's"

Indian Calendar

Western Calendar


Phalguna Shudh 9th to 15th and until Vadya 5th

March 04 to 09, till March 14

Shigmo, Holi, Dulvat and Gulal Utsav

Chaitra Shudh 1st

March 26, 01

Gudi Padva; of special interest at Shree Kalikadevi, Kasarpal

Chaitra Shudh 9th

April 02, 01

Ram Navami: Special celebrations at Parthagali, Canacona

Shravan Shudh 6th

July 26, 01

Bhajan Saptah at Vasco da Gama

Shravan Vadya 8th

August 12, 01

Gokulashtami; Special celebration at Narve, Bicholim

Bhadrapad Shudh 4th to 14th

August 22, 01, September 01, 01

Ganesh Chaturthi; Celebrated all over Goa

Ashwin Shudh 1st

October 17, 01

Navratri Utsav: Celebrated at all temples. Special celebration are held at Shantadurga, Nagueshi, Mahalaxmi and Ramnath Temples at Ponda and Kalika Devi temple at Kasarpal

Ashwin Shudh 10th

October 26, 01

Dussehra: celebrated all over Goa especially at Shree Navdurga Temple, Poinguinim, Canacona and Temples at Ponda & Canacona Talukas

Kartik Shudh 11th

November 26, 01

Bhajan Dindi: Pirna, Bardez

Kartik Shudh 13th

November 28, 01

Dindi Utsav: Margao

Kartik Shudh 15th

November 30, 01

Dindi Lalkhi, Palkhi & Sankasum Kala: Temples in Cancona

September / October

November 14, 01

Diwali: Celebrated all over Goa

Chaitra Pournima

April 08, 01

Celebrations at Borim, Sanquelim, Nagueshi, Chandranath, Cudnem & Mashem, Canacona.

Datta Jayanti

Marg Shirsh Shudh 14th

December 29, 01

Special celebrations are held at Sanquelim, Quepem and Dattawadi in Mapusa

Pausha Shudh 9th

January 04, 01

Shree Shantadurga, Fatorpa, Cuncolim

Megha Shudh 5th

January 29, 01

Shree Shantadurga, Kavlem

Megha Shudh 15th

February 08, 01


Shree Mangueshi, Mangueshi, Shree Ajoba, Keri, Pernem

Ashwin Shudh 14th

October 31, 01

Celebrated as Kojagiri Pournima at Shree Mhalasa, Mardol, Ponda

Megha Vadya 5th

February 12,01

Shree Mahalaxmi Utsav, Amona, Sanquelim

Phalguna Shudh 2nd

February 25, 01

Shree Betal, Siolim Khola, Canacona

Chaitra Shudh 15th

April 08, 01

Shree Parashurama, Poinguinim, Canacona

Chaitra Shudh 15th

April 08, 01

Shree Chandreshwar Bhutnath, Chandranath, Paroda, Quepem

Chaitra Vadya 5th

April 12, 01

Cudnem, Sanquelim & Homekhand

Chaitra Vadya 6th

April 13, 01

Shishyan Ranni feast in first fortnight of Chaitra month at Shree Mallikarjun temple, Canacona

Vaishakh Shudh 5th

April 28, 01

- Lairai and Homekhand at Shirgao, Bicholim

Vaishakh Shudh 14th

May 06, 01

Shree Narsinha at Veling, Mardol

Kartik Vadya 1st

December 01, 01

Nagueshi, Ponda

Kartik Vadya 9th

December 09, 01

Navdurga, Madkai, Ponda

Magha Shudh 10th

February 03, 01

Maruti Zatra, Mala, Panaji, Goa.

Phalguna Vadya 5th

March 14, 01

Fatorpa Gulal

Phalguna Vadya 11th

March 20, 01

Jambavali Gulal

Kartik Vadya 8th

December 08, 01

Navdurga Madkai Zatra

Kartik Vadya 13th

December 12, 01

Amona, Khandepar Zatra

Kartik Vadya 30th

December 14, 01

Vandevi, Mulgoan, Banastari Zatra

Marg Shirsh Shudh 1st 

December 15, 01

Kapileshwari Zatra (Ponda)

Marg Shirsh Shudh 3rd  

December 17, 01

Anant Zatra (Savoi Verem)

Marg Shirsh Shudh 15th 

December 30, 01

Shivnath Shiroda Zatra


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Arts and Crafts

Goa also has a rich tradition of the classical arts. For many generations, Goans have excelled in poetry, music and the fine arts. The art gallery of the Institute Menezes Braganza has on display, a number of paintings by contemporary Indian (Goan and Non-Goan) artists and some reproductions of the old masters.

Goa is a land of crafts and craftsmen where aesthetic quality finds a natural expression. The exquisitely carved rosewood and teak furniture, the terracotta figurines, and the classic brass and gold jewelry all speaks of an age still valuable in this technology obsessed world. 

The folk paintings of Goa have been traced to different places from ancient temples, churches and palatial manors to humble households. They mostly depict episodes from the epics- the Mahabharata and the Ramayana and the Puranas and also scenes from the New Testament. These folk art creations in the form of wall paintings are a striking example of the inner creative urge,  stimulated by piety, patriotic fervor, natural beauty, or just common incidents of daily life. For among Goa’s folk paintings there are, besides wall portraits of mythical and historical heroes like Krishna and Chhatrapati Shivaji a few depicting scenes of rural life, the boundaries of nature and romantic moments. 

Goan folk paintings cover a span of 150 years. Ravi Verma’s influence is evident in many of these pieces of folk art. In fact the imitations by the local artists of some of the renowned painters pictures are so good as to be mistaken for the original productions on a cursory glance.

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The Goa Kala Academy

The Goa Kala Academy was established in 1969. It is the principal institution for the promotion of art and culture in the state. The Kala Academy Complex  is situated on the banks of the river Mandovi  along the Panaji-Dona Paula road.  The complex includes an open air auditorium with a seating capacity of 2500 , a closed air-conditioned theatre-The Dinanath  Mangeshkar Auditorium with a seating capacity of 1000, two mini-theatres, a recording studio, a full-fledged library of music (tapes and discs) and books, an art gallery and workshops, practice rooms, visitor's rooms, etc. 

The Kala Academy plays a key role in the nurturing the musical artistic and literary traditions of the people of Goa. The Academy has identified 27 folk-dance forms of Goa and these are now frequently performed in public. 

The Goa Symphony Orchestra maintained by the Western Music Wing (the erstwhile Academia de Musica) of the Academy has earned an enviable reputation for inspired performances. The Kala Academy also conducts a faculty of Indian Music and Dance besides operating and assisting a number of music centres in the state to promote and tap musical talent at both urban and rural levels. The various festivals held by the Goa Kala Academy are as follows

Artists Camp January
Pop, Beat and Jazz music festival May
Bhajan Competition August
Kirtan Mahotsav  at Quepem September
Tiatr Festival November
Marathi Drama festival November / December
Konkani Drama festival November / December
Surashree Kesharbai Smriti Sangeeta Samaroha November
State Art festival December
Christmas Carol singing December

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The future

The fulfillment of the age-old twin aspirations of statehood and language has given a fresh lease to the literary and artistic activities in Goa. The people of Goa today are  engaged in a voyage of rediscovery of their cultural legacy. For example, Teatro and its rural counterpart and complement the “Khel-Tiatr” are riding the crest of the current popularity wave. 

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