Goan Customs & Traditions

The multi-religious fabric of Goan society shines brightly, imbibed with the spirit of Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava (Equal Respect for All Religions). The major religions are Hinduism and Christianity, together accounting for more than 95% of the population, while Islam, Buddhism and other religions account for the rest. Unlike the common perception, Goa is not a Christian majority state, but a Hindu majority state

Goa is a multi-lingual state, thanks to its chequered history of thousands of years, which has seen people of various regions, ethnic races and religions from India and abroad coming over to and settling in Goa, while influencing the local language. At present, Marathi and Konkani are two major languages of Goa. Hindi, the national language of India, is well understood in Goa. In major towns, English is widely used in writing and conversation. Goa being a major tourist place offers a tourist-friendly medium of interaction through English. On the other hand, Portuguese, the language of the colonial rulers and the official language till 1961 before liberation, notwithstanding the official patronage and a compulsory medium of study, failed to make a dent in the mind of the majority of Goans. It remained only the language of the elite but alienated the masses. Thus just after the departure of the Portuguese, Portuguese lost all its favour and usage. However, very few - particularly the older or pre-liberation generation - still use Portuguese.
Fairs & Festivals
Throughout the year, every month, you will find fair and festival of one kind or the other. These are mainly religious and social in nature. But purely artistic festivals are also organized such as Kala Academy's annual festivals, which draw artists and art lovers from all over India.
Performing Arts
Goan folk dances bear a tradition of thousands of years, characterized by innumerable forms performed by and reflecting lifestyles, cultures and aspirations of different strata, religions and castes of Goan society. The prominent ones are described here.
Goan art colourfully illustrates the unity in diversity of Goan heritage. Various art forms pertaining to different religious beliefs and life styles have mingled into one unique identity that has developed into Goan art. Thus we find Hindu artists chiseling out Christian images in villages and cities. Goan art, developed around religious requirements, represents this process of assimilation, interdependence and mutual acceptability.
Goa Carnival - Traditions & Customs
For four nights and three days, then, beer, cigarettes and liquor became the order of the day. However, the church and social activists intervened successfully to turn the Goa Carnival into a harmless and healthy people feast instead of just a promotion fest for all wrong kind of tourists and consumers. Roman version of the Indian Spring festival of Holi, Saturnalia highlighted floats, tableaux, clowns, vamps, contortionists and pranksters. A similar festival in Greece was held in the honor of Kronas, one of the Titans and the father of Zeus. Latin Europe celebrated these three days of fun and merriment in anticipation of dull forty days of Lent season. Italians eat a 1000-egg omelette on Friday before Lent at Ponti, British gorge on eggs and butter in large quantities on Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day while French on Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday.

Germans celebrated the Fastnacht or Eve of Fasting. In Portugal, the pre-carnival celebrations are known as 'assaltos' and people go out in masked groups to 'raid' their friends' houses and are offered delectable food and beverages, amid much singing and dancing. The Portuguese aristocratic descendants of Goa still follow the custom. In the ancient times, the carnival was the occasion for authentic battles in which prominent citizens also took part. The Portuguese sailors from the fun ship Sado made the occasion all the more lively with their guitars, mandolins and other musical instruments and sang fados along with other carnival tunes. Later, the Goa carnival turned mildly violent in nature and flowers and sweets were replaced by potatoes, rotten eggs, tomatoes and brinjals and the powder bombs by 'cocotes' made of spoilt flour and husk making it cruder than before.


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