April 06, 2022

#BlogchatterA2Z: E for Events in Goa to witness and celebrate.

There is a lot to celebrate in Goa.  Despite being the smallest state, Goa’s sandy beaches, mixed culture, Indo Portuguese architecture, lush greenery, diverse cuisine, and vibrant night life gives it much reason to be proud of.

And if that wasn’t enough to charm you already, we have major events you'd love to witness and celebrate, happening all year round.

Vital attractions for tourists and locals, these events are a reflection of Goa’s heritage and people.

Today's post talks about 5 of them. 

1) Carnival - a Popular Portuguese tradition,  Carnival is a remnant of the 400 year long Portuguese colonialism in Goa and is still celebrated with much pomp and fanfare. This is a festival of food, drink, music, dance and fun, extending over 3-5 days preceding Lent-the month when Christians observe fasts and abstain from meat and alcohol. Panjim is the centre of all activity during the carnival…buzzing with the excitement of pop up bazaars, and parading floats. You will find the streets decorated with colourful masks and streamers, trees lit up with fairy lights, and Goans in celebratory avatar. The floats are elaborate and extensive and are a sight to behold. A constant fixture in the floats is the legendary king Momo, a jovial, rotund character whose appearance signifies the beginning of all Carnival activities. 


Grape Escapade - if you are a lover of good food and wine, this is one event you shouldn’t miss. Held in January every year (from 2005) at the huge courtyard of Inox theatre in Panjim, The grape escapade is a cultural/lifestyle event where wine tasting sessions are held for all wine connoisseurs, in the company of experts and wine manufacturers like Sula, Big Banyan, Zampa, Vintage etc. It is organised by Goa tourism Development Corporation as an attempt to promote tourism in Goa. However, Goan locals being the hedonistic lot that we are, end up thronging the event far more than visiting tourists. Other highlights at the event include dance performances and music by Goan artists, spot singers, and local bands, fashion shows, and the titular Grape Escapade Queen. So next time you intend visiting Goa, plan your trip around this time. It’s very likely that your favourite wine is available at an attractive discount and is waiting to be picked by you at the Grape Escapade. 

3) Sao Joao- if you are in Goa, and you see a group of inebriated men nosedive into the local well, chances are high that what you are witnessing Sao Joao. Celebrated on 24th January every year, Sao Java or St John the Baptist’s feast is a festival of joy, fun and excitement celebrated by Christians in Goa. While some say that the well is symbolic for ‘womb’ and leaping into it represents St John the Baptist’s  ‘leap of joy’ in his mothers womb on this day, there are others who think it represents the baptism of Jesus by John in the river Jordon. On this day, men, young and old are seen wearing flower crowns (locally called ‘copel’) on their heads. As part of the celebration, newlywed sons-in-law are invited to their wife’s maiden home. The mother then presents the daughter a takeaway gift- a basket of fruits, which she takes along to her new home and shares with her new family.

Also known as zavoiyache fest (feast of the son-in-law), this celebration sees newlywed men jump into wells, lakes, ponds, enthusiastically shouting ‘Viva Sao Joao’ amidst the beat of ghumot (village drums) and tashe (cymbals) to retrieve bottles of Feni and gifts thrown in by the villagers. The day is then spent getting drunk, feasting on sanna, mango, pineapple, jackfruit, and having the time of their lives. 

4) Shigmo - Held around March every year, this five day festival in the month of Falgun celebrated by the Hindus in Goa. Festivities start with prayers to the village deities. the Artistically-designed and beautifully-lit floats are paraded from Panaji and across Ponda, Vasco, Madgaon and Mapusa. Shigmo commemorates the arrival of spring, and the homecoming of the warriors who had left their homes and families at the end of Dussehra to fight the invaders.


Narkasur' competition - one of the major events happening the night before Diwali, these competitions give away large sums of money as cash prizes for the best Narkasur effigy. For the uninitiated, Narkasur was the legendary demon king who ruled Goa, creating great havoc and unrest among his subjects. To save them from the torture, the people of Goa prayed to Lord Krishna for help. Thus ensued a grand battle between the Lord and the demon, which eventually resulted in Krishna using his Sudarshan Chakra to behead Narkasur and slit his tongue. He then smeared the blood of the slain demon on his own forehead as a sign of victory, of the good that triumphed over evil. The effigies of Narkasur made by Goans are a sign of this very victory. Made from waste paper, grass, cloth, and stuffed with firecrackers, these are paraded around the city alongside a young boy playing Krishna. While North Goa parades effigies that are stationary in nature, South Goa has the more mobile ‘dancing’ narkasurs, portraying the continuous battle between Krishna and the demon king. The competitons usually held till the wee hours of the morning. At dawn, the effigies are burnt amidst a lot of fireworks and enthusiastic cheer. And this heralds the beginning of Diwali. 

It is no secret that we Goans are a festive lot. We honour the old and embrace the new, always finding reasons to celebrate. To make merry. To spend time in the company of those we love and respect. 

In today's post, however, I wanted to only write about events specific to Goa. Events that will not be witnessed anywhere else (more of these will follow in the posts to come).

And for all the bonhomie and cheer Goan events bring about, for the togetherness and harmony they inspire in us, for the humble joy in small gestures, we say, ‘Obrigado, Goa!’

I hope you come back tomorrow for yet another fascinating feature of my wonderful state.

Until then, 

Mog aasu di.

(Let there be love!) 


I’m participating in #BlogchatterA2Z

My theme for the challenge is ‘Obrigado, Goa!’, under which I’ll be writing 26 posts on Goa (April 1-30th, excluding Sundays), each post corresponding to the letters of the English alphabet. You can read more about it in my theme reveal post


Suchita said...

This was such a fun read! I have only seen the carnival because of the movie Josh.

Pri said...

Thanks, Suchita. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. As for witnessing only the Carnival, I'm sure you will get lots of opportunities to change that. Goa awaits! :)

Anagha Yatin said...

Carnival in Goa is on my bucket list. Hope it comes true someday, one day!

Pri said...

Oh, I'm sure it will, Anagha. And I think you will have a nice time. :)