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Feasts Fair


India is a land of fairs and festivals.


The reason for widespread interfaith participation in festival, festas and zatras, in Shigmo and Ganesh Chaturthi and the Carnival, in Christmas, Dussehra and Diwali is because the people of Goa follow the religion of being Goan first. Everything else springs from that fountainhead.


Many Goan festivals are actually zatras (feasts) of the local or family deity celebrated at the temple of the god or goddess. Other festivals like Dussehra, Diwali and Holi are the same as those celebrated around India but with a characterstic Goan flavour. The Goan Hindu community mainly celebrates Ganesh Chathurti, Gudi Padwa, Diwali, Dussehra, Holi, Rakshabandhan, Ramnavmi and Krishna Janmashtami.


Festivals are an integral part of Goan life. Every little hamlet has a tiny temple or a church with a special annual zatra or a festa. An outstanding aspect of life in Goa is its harmony and there is always a reason to celebrate. The confluence of cultures is reflected vividly in the music of the church and the hymns of the temple.


Revelry, music and dance, flow through the blood of the Goan community. As a result of 450 years of colonization by the Portuguese, Goan music has evolved to a form that is quite different from traditional Indian music. This historic amalgamation from the East and West has produced some of India’s best artistes, both in Indian classical and Western music. The most popular forms of post Portuguese music were the mando and the dulpod, whilst dekhni is one of the most well-known forms of dance.



This is Goa’s answer to Holi, which is a festival of colour. Huge dance troupes perform intricate movements of folk dances on the road all through the length of the parade. Many troupes number more than 100 and they dance tirelessly, as they have been doing for centuries.



This is an auspicious day for starting new ventures and buying new vehicles. You can see new vehicles draped in fresh marigold flowers driving slowly up and down the city roads. All is considered auspicious on this day of “Vijayadashmi” which is marked with elaborate ceremonies at most major temples of Goa.


Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi, undoubtedly is the most popular festival of Goa. Celebrated around August or September, it sees the return of most Goans to their native place of birth or their ancestral houses to join the entire family. Most towns and cities in Goa wear a deserted look during this time. Heavily decorated clay idols of Lord Ganesh receive offerings and prayers from devotees. The end of Chaturthi is marked by a procession leading to the immersion of the idol into the river or the sea.



Diwali, the festival of lights, is celebrated all over India. Its roots go back more than 7000 years to the time when Lord Ram killed the demon king Ravan. Ram was welcomed in his hometown Ayodhya by a celebration of crackers and lights. In northern India, the festival ends when an effigy of Ravan is burnt with an arrow of Ram.


In Goa the effigies of Narkasur as the demon King Ravan are burned one day before Diwali. All around Goa, gigantic straw and paper effigies of Narkasur - dressed in colourful paper clothes and armed with swords and other armaments - are erected in the days preceding Diwali. They are then burnt just before sunrise.




Holi is the festival of colors when people of all ages playfully drench each other with coloured water. The vibrant use of colours symbolises the advent of a colourful and prosperous spring season.


Christian festivals


Carnival is the annual four-day celebration which begins on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday, heralding a 40-day Lent period of penance and abstinence before Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus. The four-day Carnival has become world famous in Rio, Brazil. The Goa Carnival, led by King Momo, has its own pulsating rhythms of guitars, folk songs and drumbeats accompanying a colourful parade of floats and dancing troupes in all the major towns.


Feast of St Francis Xavier

The major Feast of St Francis Xavier is held on the 3 rd of December at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa. St Francis Xavier, the great Jesuit missionary, is the patron saint of Goa and attracts devotees from all over the world. His body has been preserved for centuries and lies in an exquisite silver casket at the Basilica and is disp