Feel the Traditional side of Goa

Every state has a few festivals synonymous with its name. Although Goa has a number of festivals, here’s a list of the ones that will let you feel the fiber and fabric that Goa is truly made of.


Viva Sao Joao! The words reverberate throughout villages as people jump into well with colourful copels shouting them out. The best place in Goa to experience the festival is in siolim. Here, crowds gather and the rain is a welcomed treat. Boats are decorated with flowers and everyone wears a crown made out of vines and flowers known locally as copels. The feast of St. John the Baptist also known as Sao Joao takes place on the 24th of June.


Bonderam is a unique festival of Goa, almost like a shy cousin of the famous carnival. The festival takes place on the fourth Saturday of the month of August on the island of Divar. The celebrations start off with a procession of flags accompanied by a traditional brass band. The flags represent the flags that were used by the Portuguese for the demarcation of borders on the island. Earlier, disputes between the two sections of the island during the Portuguese rule forced the Portuguese to use flags to demarcate the boundaries. A number of floats showcasing culture and tradition stride down the narrow roads as the crowd watches from the sides. Dancers entertain the crowd with traditional dances and attire. The island comes to life and the ferry to the island on this day is often over crowded, but worth it.


In Goa, December is eagerly awaited. As the season nears, joy creeps into your veins as the energy in the state is eclectic. Christmas is one of the major festivals in Goa. The midnight masses see crowds in the hundreds all decked in their pretties best, coming together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Houses are decked with lights and stars and most villages have their very own Christmas parties organised for the people of their villages. On days preceeding the festival, carol singers walk door to door singing out jolly Christmas melodies. Christmas sweets such a such as dodol, kokada and the famous bebinca lend the air a sweet aroma and after the morning mass, it’s time for the gifts! The Christmas night dances are much looked forward to and bring together families and friends. These traditional balls have the young and old alike jiving it out to older classics and moving a joint to the newer ones.


The mud festival is probably a festival that many in Goa itself are unaware of. Known as Chikol Kalo, it is played on an open ground in the village of Marcel in front of a temple, which has been cleared and prepared for the festival. The games end with the breaking of a mud pot (dahi handi) fixed a few meters above the ground. A pyramid is formed and a young boy climbs to the top. An eclectic atmosphere emanates amidst wet mud, the sound of drums, cymbals and other musical instruments. The celebrations proceed with traditional games which include tug of war, various drills and formations all in the slushy mud.


Shigmo also known as Shigmotsav is a traditional spring festival that consists of a parade of traditional folk, street dancers and floats. The floats are elaborately build to depict scenes from regional mythology as well as mythical scenes. The float parades held in major cities like Vasco, Panjim and Mapusa, the most spectacular being the capital city of Panjim. The festival spans over a fortnight with different days marked for different areas and festivities and takes place during the month of March.


The feast of Three Kings also known as the feast of Epiphany is celebrated in the month of January in a century old chapel that stands atop a hill. On the day of the feast, a High Mass is held followed by a time of fun and frolic. Three young boys are chosen to enact the three kings or wise men that followed the guiding star to where Jesus was born bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The three kings go up the hill in three different traditional pathways but descend via a common pathway. The festivity is heralded by kettledrums and trumpets as hundreds walk up the steep hill. The entire feast is accompanied by music, dance and entertainment and an extensive fair that covers the hill.

Author: Planet Goa Team
For us at Planet-Goa, our team is driven by that feeling of exhilaration that one gets when discovering that something ‘unique’ and ‘new’ about Goa for our ever-so-discerning readers.

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