There is something happening all year round. With such a healthy mixture of Indian and Portuguese, Hindu & Catholic heritage with lots of other cultural influences thrown in the pot - you are always guaranteed a “happening”. Festivals can move around the calendar a bit - so here below is your rough guide to the main Goan celebrations.
JANUARY / FEBRUARY
Mahashivratri, a celebration in honor of Lord Shiva held at all the principal Siva temples, such as the Rudreshwar, Mangueshi, Nagueshi, Sri Mahadev – Bhumika and other temples.
Ratha-Saptami festival takes place in February at the Mallikarjuna Temple.
Maruti-Zatra at Sri Mahalakshmi Temple is important, as Mahalakshmi is the presiding deity of Panaji, Goa’s capital city.
Mahalsa Jatra or Vijayarathotsav (Chariot Festival) is celebrated at Mahalsa Temple of Mohini in Ponda.
Shigmotsav or Shigmo is a grand five-day festival of colors, celebrated distinctively in the villages, corresponding with Holi or Spring Festival. Held for one-week up to the full-moon day in March, Shigmo is universally celebrated in Goa, but especially at Panaji, Mapusa, Vasco-da-Gama and Margao.
Ghodemodni or parade of the horse riders is a part of Shigmo and is found in Fatorpa and Bicholim. Hypnotic and rhythmic music of drums and shistles accompany the martial dance, which parades down the main street, imitating horses and their riders.
Rombat takes place on the second and third day of Shigmo. It is a procession of men in traditional dress carrying banners and umbrellas, dancing to the music of drums. Young boys wave green twigs, signifying the arrival of spring.
Drama Festivals form an important part of Shigmo with most villages staging plays during the festival week.
Holi is celebrated as Gulal or Rangapanchami at Sri Damodar Temple in Zambaulin.
The three-day festival of Gade at Mahadev Bhumika temple attracts huge crowds.
Kalas Utsav is celebrated on a major scale every alternate year at Sri Morjaee Temple in Pernem. Visitors from Maharashtra and Karnataka attend the seven-day festivities, which are socio-religious occasions.
Ram Navami or the birthday of Lord Rama is celebrated at Ramnath Temple.
Chaitra Purnima is celebrated at Sri Mahalakshmi Temple at Panaji, and during the nine days preceding the full moon, at Sri Vithal Temple in Sanquelim. It is also widely celebrated at Nagueshi, Chandranath, Cudnem and Mashem in Canacona.
This is homecoming season for Many Goans settled away from Goa. It is also the fruit season and Feni-making season. A distinctive Goan aperitif, Feni comes from cashew apples. In addition it is toddy-tapping season.
Mirg is on 6th June. It is the start of the monsoon season. The Christian Mirg is one day earlier. If the rains fail, prayers are offered to the Catholic saints born this month – St. Anthony, St. John the Baptist and St. Peter and St. Paul. In Goa there is a happy mingling of festivals and feast days for the common good of all.
Gokul Ashtami or Janamashtami is the Birthday of Lord Krishna. This marks the beginning of Goa’s harvest festival. At Narve village in Bicholim, people gather for pilgrimage from far and wide.
Ganesh Chaturthi is the Birthday of Lord Ganesh, the most important deity in the Konkan, and is celebrated all over Goa. Thousands return to Goa for this festival, which is associated with a good harvest.
Novidade: In each village, the first offering is made to the church and the paddy specially blessed. No farmer, whether Hindu or Christian, will harvest his rice crop before it is offered in a ceremony called ‘Novidade’ in which the parish priest himself harvests a sheaf of rice and returns with it to the Church. Local people accompany him with music, fire-works and jubilation. It is a true feast day for all. Women folk of Goa’s earliest tribal settlers perform a dance called Bhandup in the second half of the month.
Navaratri or the nine nights festival associated with Lord Rama’s defeat of Ravana, demon-king of Lanka, culminates in the grand festival of Dussehra.
Dussehra is celebrated by devotees of the Mother Goddess as her festival. The Sri Bhagavati Temple in Pernem has a fortnight’s festivities on the occasion.
Special celebrations for Navaratra Utsav are held at Shantadurga, Nagueshi, Mahalakshmi and Ramnath Temples at Ponda and at Kalika Devi Temples in Kasarpal. The Dhangar Dance is a dance of worship performed during this festival.
The Kirtan Mahotsasv or religious music festival takes place at Quepem in September and is an all-night celebration