The smallest state of India needs no introduction because this honeypot tourist destination attracts over 63 hundred thousand visitors every year! A former Portuguese colony, Goa is also fondly known as the 'Rome of the East'. Goa as we know it is exactly how anyone in the country would describe it too, beaches, endless parties, exciting nightlife and surreal nature at its best. Inhabited and colonized by the Portuguese for almost 450 years, the state has an inherent influence on their culture and traditions. Spawned over a land area of 3702 km square with the Arabian Sea cradling its coastline, this destination experiences tropic weather conditions almost all through the year. Since everyone already knows of Goa's colourful nightlife, here is a little throwback to the rich history that the state also boasts of.
History of Goa
Besides being colonized by the Portuguese, Goa has a fascinating historical past, which dates back further to the 3rd century BC. A prominent part of the Mauryan Empire, Goa was of prime importance because of its natural harbours and wide river base. Only in 1987 did Goa get the status of an independent state and the regional language Konkani was recognized as one of India's official languages. Despite the multi-cultural influences on Goa, the state still boasts of a distinctive culture, which makes the destination an affable one.
The Goan Life and Culture
People living in Goa are referred to as Goans. A small state on India's western coast, Goa has always benefitted as a trade centre because of its easily accessible ports. A beautiful harmonization of the East and West, Goans have taken the best of both worlds. A civilization of warm, happy people, Goa sees a mix of different religions like Christians, Catholics, Muslims and Hindus that live together in consonance. Following their age-old traditions and customs, Goan's celebrate all major festivals with fervour without bringing any religious barriers within the society.
Dwellers who live in small villages within the state are neither overtly greedy for money nor poor. Living off lavishly with what they earn through the peak months of tourism, goan's live life to the fullest. With a strong influence from the west, Goa has always had the more modern mindset as compared to other states of India. Their rich heritage culture has been untouched with modern reformations one sees in big cities. Celebrating livelihood and religious festivals with scrumptious food and delightful music, the locals are humble, warm and fun loving individuals.
Food Culture of Goa
Food and drinks are an integral part of marking Goa's vibrant culture. Meals bring families together, and a staple is the combination of Goan fish curry and rice. A dish that brings a warm coconut flavour to the palate, this one is a must try if you are visiting the city. Apart from this staple, Goa is also famous for its mixed bag of freshly caught seafood. Prawns, crabs, kingfish with their traditional spicy marination are a delectable delicacy for the locals. Another festive favourite for the Goans is their beef and pork roasts that are a must on their Christmas men's which is best paired with Goa's famous brew Feni, made with fermented cashews. Coconuts, spices and fresh catch from the sea are core ingredients one will find in any Goan home, making their food hearty and absolutely delicious. Fish curry and rice, a dish which is synonymous to the state of Goa, is prepared via using a host of ingredients like coconut, chilli peppers, cashew and seasoning. Other dishes like the Bebinca (a multi-layered sweet dish) and the Khatkhate are essentials when friends get together or during festivities.
Unlike cosmopolitan cities in India, the locals of Goa live a beautiful and leisurely life, living each moment to the fullest. Reaping the benefits of its location, the most common occupation of locals is fishing. Owing to the fertile land and abundant water supply, often locals practice farming and grow common food items like cashew, coconuts, jackfruit and other grains. Apart from this, the next most sought-after business in a tourist overrun location like Goa, locals run shacks, guest houses and are tourist guides in the prime season. To sustain themselves in the offseason they practice the cultivation of local crops and grains.
Handicrafts of Goa
In an area where tourism is the core economy booster, small handicrafts and souvenir jewellery are popular items found in the local markets. Skilled artisans reuse shells and coconut skins found on the beach to make stunning jewellery, frames, and showpieces for home decor. Apart from this, bamboo, brass, and silver are also widely sold in the form of jewellery and artefacts that attract tourists from across the globe.
Dance and Music Culture of Goa
Goans have a particular fondness for performing arts, which is very distinct from the other states of India. A beautiful blend of Indian and western, Goan art forms consist of Fugdi, Dhalo and the Kunbi that date back to the Portuguese era in Goa. The folk dances and music in the state are performed for both religious festivals and cheerful events. The rich and exquisite culture of Goa adds a feather this already favoured travel destination in India.
Performed while wearing a ghumat, this dance form is accompanied via a song which has western roots whereas the dance has an Indian origin. The Dekhni dance is performed by only the women of the community and is one of the best-known traditions of Goa.
Goff Tolgadi And Shigmo
These are a couple of dance forms that are very local to the Goan community and are usually performed during the months of Spring, as an offering and jubilation which the season brings to the peasants and their crops. The Goff consists of weaving braids with various tints of colours and is often performed by the people residing in the Canacona Taluka (province) of Goa. Source
The Shigmo is marked by traditional dances that are performed by wearing colorful dresses accompanied by beats of a dhol, tasha or that of cymbals. Processions of floats on which we can see passionate actors enact performances conveying the history of Goa, can be seen throughout the street of Goa.
Traditions Goan Attire
The traditional costume of the womenfolk in Goa comprises that of a 9-yard sari also referred to as the ‘Pano Bhaju’ and some jewellery to balance out the entire outfit. The fishermen do not have any particular attire but are usually seen adorning bright cotton shirts with half pants.
The attire of the tribal people in Goa comprises of a loincloth known as ‘Kashti’, with a blanket draped around their shoulders. The women wear a traditional sari with a tied knot using their ‘Kunbi palloo’ and have a very distinctive dressing style.
This coastal paradise is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations, despite its multicultural influences. So if you haven't seen this vibrant treasure of our country, plan your next trip to Goa and be charmed by the humble locals and high-spirited culture of this beloved city.