The holiday spot for all seasons, Goa is much more than just beaches. The place embarks of great history and culture that one is fortunate enough to witness through its monuments. While going there you will get to experience other things too one might miss out on some things once around the state. So, we have listed a little guide for you to understand the state in and out.
The party capital of Goa also known as the Rome of the East has more to its existence. For around 450 years the state of Goa was inhabited and colonized by the Portuguese. This powerful influence still manages to reap into Goa through its abundant corners. Hence, it is regarded for being a land that boasts of unique cultures and heritage amalgamated and labelled as one. The people of Goa or Goans follow both Hindu and Christian religious practices. Not just their own, one can witness their presence and friendliness with people of other religious backgrounds as well. Goa has numerous holy places such as churches, temples, and mosques. You will not only witness the prints of their uniqueness through their mosques or temples. Their charm extends up to the local food, their language, their friendliness, architecture, history and positive vibe that envelopes it completely.
During the beginning of the fourteenth century, Goa was conquered by the Islamic invaders for a very brief period. Due to its apt location next to the waters of the sea, Goa seemed like the perfect place to establish the Vijayanagar empire. The empire was set in Goa around the end of the fourteenth century. During the peak of the Vijayanagar empire, the coastal area was used by the merchants to import Arabian horses from the Middle East. During the beginning of the sixteenth century, the European forces started travelling to India where eventually it led the Portuguese to conquer Goa. Christianity missionaries led by Saint Francis Xavier entered India. His earthly remains are preserved in the Basilica of Bom Jesus, the Roman Catholic basilica which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Goa was under the reign of Portuguese for more than four centuries. At the end of 1961, the Indian Army entered Goa causing the Portuguese to finally pack their bags and leave. In 1987 Goa finally got the status of an independent state and its regional language Konkani was also recognized as one of India’s official languages.
The people of Goa are extremely jovial people that are always ready to offer a hand of help. The Christians that reside inside the state of Goa fluently speak the Konkani language that has been influenced by the presence of the Portuguese which can be assessed in their vocabulary. Konkani is known to be derived from the ancient language of Indo-Aryan civilization. The languages spoken by different communities of Goa vary largely. Though Konkani was largely spoken at the time when Portuguese had conquered Goa, it was still largely suppressed to a great extent not just for communicating but also in the field of education too. A minority of mixed descendants of the Portuguese still reside here. They are known to speak Portuguese, are educated and follow the Devanagari and Latin script. Those who live in the Northern part of Goa will have a greater accent of Marathi and Hindi, because of their closeness to the city of Mumbai. Apart from this, English is a common language here so you will easily be able to communicate here.
During the Portuguese reign, the army and the religious people destroyed the temples of the state and also caused most non-Christians in the area to convert themselves. The people of Goa are applauded for their great zeal towards life and modern mindset as opposed to other parts of the country.
Goa is known for its vibrant festivals Indo-Latin festivals and carnivals. The festivals here that are hosted enjoy a European styled theme. Apart from the recurring carnivals, one should also visit here during the time of their festivals. On the other hand, traditional Hindu festivals are frequently celebrated around the globe. The top festivals that one gets to enjoy here include Easter, Diwali, Christmas, GaneshChaturthi, Goa carnival, Feast of St. Francis Xavier and many more.
Top festivals to enjoy in Goa are:
- Shantadurga – Celebrated in the month of January, the Shantadurga festival is celebrated to honour the Goddess Shantadurga. The festival is famous throughout the state for the procession, five-day fair, and many cheerful cultural activities.
- Republic Day – The Republic day celebrated on the 26th of January every year honours the day when the constitution of India came into effect 26 January 1950 that replaces the Government of India Act of 1935 as the governing document of India. Thus, turning the nation into a newly formed republic.
- Wine Festival – The annual wine festival or wine-growing festival involves the cultivation and harvesting of grapes that occurs after the harvest of the grapes. It occurs around the northern hemisphere that falls around the end of September and runs until the end of the month of October.
- MahaShivratri – Maha Shivaratri is one of the most largely celebrated festivals around the country. It is celebrated to honour Lord Shiva. Vibrant dances lead the celebrations of this grand Hindu festival. People choose to conduct fasts, prayers and meditation practices to embark on greatness and their beliefs.
- Goa Carnival –The Goa carnival is one of the most awaited celebrations in the entire state of Goa. Celebrations start from the month of December to make this carnival a great success as it comprises great music, dance and entertainment. People also conduct parades, plays that portray the Goan traditions beautifully
- Holi – The bright festival of Holi is celebrated all over the world for its mythological significance. One can always choose to celebrate in the state of Goa as it is also known for its great Holi celebrations. Many churches and temples can also be seen decorating their exteriors and interiors with bright colours that embark this festival.
- Shigmo – During the spring season, the Shigmo Festival takes place in the Konkani diaspora of Goa which is considered as one of the most beautiful and auspicious Hindi festivals. The festival is celebrated for a span of five days. Hindus in other parts of the country are known to celebrate Holi which is also a part of it.
- Easter – Easter is a significant Christian holiday that commemorates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It is the conclusion of the Passion of Jesus that is followed by 40 days of fasting, prayer, and penance.
- Diwali – A grand Hindu festival, Diwali is celebrated around the country for its great significance in the hearts of all. People celebrate over a course of many days by decorating their houses with lamps and diyas.
- Feast of St. Francis Xavier – the Feast of St. Francis Xavier is a grand festival of Goa where they pay homage to the patron saint of Goa. It is celebrated from the 21st November to 2nd January, for which people from all over the world gather around to celebrate the death anniversary that falls on the 3rd December. The Basilica of Bom Jesus houses the mortal remains of the saint too.
- Christmas –Christmas is another grand festival that is celebrated around the globe. The 25th of December marks the birth of Jesus Christ that is loved by people of all ages. Gifts by Santa, cakes and decorated Christmas trees are ways through which people love celebrating Christmas.
Anyone who has ever either heard about Goa or been to Goa is well aware of how delicious is its local food. The staple food of the region includes the various seafood dishes with rice. If you are visiting here and are vegetarian then you should surely give it a try. The Goan cuisine is largely inspired by the Portuguese, Konkani, and Brazillian cuisine. Some of the top fish species that you will be able to discover here include ladyfish, lobster, tiger prawn, squid and many more. Spices are frequently and readily available here. Alson since coconut grows in abundance here you will be able to spot many products that have coconut in them. Spicy food lovers will enjoy the local cuisine as spices grow in abundance here they find a prominent place inside the recipe and preparation of many dishes. But the uniqueness of the food is not caused by the spices, it is added by the presence of vinegar that gives the food a unique taste. Goan cuisine also has a large amount of garlic added in them. The iconic beverage of Goa is the cashew wine that is prepared from the fermentation of cashew fruit. If you are looking for a non-alcoholic beverage while holidaying in Goa then you could try some lime soda, Kokum juice, coconut water and sugar cane juice.
Some great vegetarian dishes you should surely try while glancing through a Goan restaurant menu includes Pork Vindaloo, Goa sausages, Chicken cafreal, Chicken or vegetable Xacuti, Fish or vegetable Caldine and the Feijoada. Some great dessert options could include Doce, Dodol or a Bebinca.
The traditional music styles of Goa include both Dulpod and Mando. The majority Hinduism population of Goa enjoys Kirtan, Natak and Bhajan styles of music. Goa is known for its different dance forms too that can be seen enlightening various religious festivals and events. The traditional dance forms of the land include Fugdi, Deknni, Dashavtara, Corridinho, and others that date back to the Portuguese era. The dance and music aspect of Goa add an incredible
The Dekhni dance is an extremely popular song and dance performance form and tradition of Goa. It is performed while wearing a ghumat, the dance form is accompanied all times by a song that runs in the background which has a more western influence whereas the dance has an Indian origin. The Dekhni dance is performed only by female performers.
Goff Talgadi and Shigmo
Performed in the months of spring, the Goff Tolgadi And Shigmo is a local dance form of the Goan community that performs this dance as a way of offering when the new month brings in new crops. It is often performed by the people residing in the Canacona Taluka of Goa that consists of weaving braids with various tints of colours. The Shigmo is another traditional dance form that consists of parades of floats on which we can see excitable actors enact performances that convey the epic history of Goa. People wear colourful clothes and beat drums and dhols too in order to celebrate their happiness.
The state of Goa is not only known for its beaches around the country. But it is also famously known for its shopping markets. You can choose to shop some great beachwear, junk jewellery or casual footwear while being on a trip to Goa. If you are looking for some great foodstuff to take home then you could probably shop for some sausages, seafood, fruits and vegetables. You could spot some great clothing pieces too that either could be by local designers or a fashion boutique owner designer. It is usually advisable that when you are out for shopping in Goa do not think that you will be done in a couple of hours. Take some time out of your holiday schedule especially for shopping around the malls and local streets both. The ideal time would be at least one to two days. You can choose to get your hands on some great craftwork and bamboo toys for which the Goa markets are well known. Other things to shop for include items such as jute articles, bamboo articles, brass statues, wood articles, Papier-Mache, embroidery, coconut shell articles, and much more.
Goa, as we all know, sits by the beautiful coastline. The great mix of blue waters and sand beaches calls everyone to its shores. But if you think you’ll be stuck at the beach either sunbathing or lying on the beach chair then you are certainly mistaken. Goa has much more to offer. An important and fun aspect of Goa is its adventure sports. Many beaches choose to offer different adventure activities. Hence whichever activity you plan to opt for you should plan accordingly in advance as you will have to travel up to that particular beach. Some of the famous adventure activities that are offered in the state include the thrilling scuba diving, snorkelling, trekking, kneeboarding, windsurfing, water skiing, water scooters, water rafting, kite surfing, banana boat rides, kayaking, hot air ballooning, aqua zorbing and many more. Whether you are a water baby or not you should surely consider trying at least a couple of these activities as they will surely add that bit of excitement to your holiday.
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The costumes of the people of Goa consist of a strong influence of its culture. As its culture and lifestyle, the clothes of the people of Goa are equally vibrant and colourful. Though you will be able to spot a Portuguese influence in the western attires of men and women. A nine-yard sari with pano bhaji and traditional jewellery is considered as the traditional outfit for the women of Goa. The most fun sight to witness is that of the Koli fisherman group dressed in bright clothes and a bamboo heart. During the Goa carnival, you will be able to spot much more vibrancy and extravagant attires.
Goa is known for its happening and engaging nightlife. From beaches, restaurants to shacks you can choose to enjoy a great platter of food, host of drinks, dancing to the music tunes with your gang of friends. If you want to just eat at a restaurant with your partner where there is some soothing music playing then there are tons of options for you to try. Similarly, if you are in the mood to go all out at exploring the nightlife of Goa then you can either drop by a bar or a nightclub. Bars here function till the wee hours in the night so you may not worry about when it is going to close. But, if you want to dance the night out with your friends then there are nightclubs too. Make sure to stick to the only licensed ones.