Goa Carnival
When: February, before Easter Where: Entire Goa Duration: Three Days Highlights: Street plays, songs, dances, parades, feasting and merry making One of the most colorful and popular festival of Goa is the Goa Carnival. This three day extravaganza, of fun, frolic, amusement and merry-making, takes place in the month of February. The Goa Carnival festival is one of the most eagerly awaited events of the year. Though essentially a Christian festival, all people of Goa, irrespective of their faith and religion take part in this festival. The word Carnival has been derived from the Latin word "Carnavale" which means to throw away meat. The main highlight of Goan carnival is to have fun by indulging in singing, dancing, feasting, etc. before the 40 day abstinence period of Lent before Easter. The history of the Goan carnival goes back to almost 500 years. It was essentially introduced in Goa by the Portuguese. The trend of celebrating the Carnival with hedonistic pleasures dates back to ancient Rome and Greece. It came to be known to the Portuguese and Spanish people with time and when the Portuguese established their colony in Goa, they introduced the concept there. Since then, the carnival is regular feature every year and a time when people all over Goa take part in it with pleasure. Just before Easter Sunday, all Goans celebrate the carnival as a feasting and merry making time. The carnival is absolutely colorful and lively and the whole of Goa comes alive with this festival. The entire state is decorated with streamers and colorful ribbons and papers. Throughout the state, many fun parades are organized and people belonging to different communities and areas prepare their tableaus with different representations and themes. On the opening day of the carnival, King Momo presides over the festival and "orders" his subjects to party and indulge in merry making. The mornings are dominated with singing, feasting and organizing street plays while the evenings are usually full of dancing, balls, etc. on the wide open streets. With the increase in the number of tourists to Goa, the carnival is gaining more and more popularity and is visited by a number of tourists. In a nutshell, Goa Carnival is festival that is dominated by enjoyment and merry making where people come together and spread cheer and happiness. History of Carnival Carnival means a complete holiday dedicated to fun and enjoying as a break from the daily routine and stress of the every-day life. The word 'carnival' is originated from a Latin word 'carnelevarium' meaning 'removing the flesh' or 'raising a gala storm'. More... Origin of Goa Carnival The funkiest fest of India, Goa Carnival is a three-day long festival. King Momo introduced Goa Carnival just before the Lent season of the Christian calendar. According to Christianity, Lent is the 40-day period of fasting and penance before the Easter Sunday meant to purify one's soul. More...

Bonderam Festival
Location: Divar Island, Goa Highlights: Colorful tableaux, carnival like atmosphere Time of Celebration: Fourth Saturday of August The Bonderam festival of Goa is celebrated on the Divar Island. This quiet little island is located at a distance of 12 kilometers from Panaji. The celebration of this festival has a unique history behind it. It is said that many years back, the villagers resented the rules that were adopted for settling disputes regarding the land issues. The Portuguese then set up flags to mark areas where the villagers were unable to take over the lands of the nearby villages. The villagers protested against this system by knocking down all the flags. The Bonderam festival is celebrated in the memory of those protests. Every year in August, this small island becomes alive with bubbling activity of the Bonderam festival. The people residing here come together to celebrate this festival and a carnival like atmosphere is created here. Colorful tableaux are created by the people and a massive parade takes place. Every small community or a group of people come together to celebrate Bonderam festival in Goa. Do not miss to visit this place if you happen to be here during August. There is elaborate feasting during the Bonderam festival and every household is decorated thus presenting a scenic and colorful picture. The villagers engage in a mock fight that represents the knocking down of the flags during the time of the Portuguese. Toy weapons made of bamboo stems are used for fighting and wild berries are used as missiles that are aimed at the rival group. All this is taken in good spirit and all the people come together after the mock fight to eat and drink merrily.

Goa Christian Festivals
The Portugal rule in Goa left a deep and ever lasting Christian influence in this state of India. At that time, people were converted to Christians on a large scale. Though they follow the Christian practices and believe in the Christian faith, but they have not forgotten their roots. People in Goa celebrate all Christian festivals with much joy and enthusiasm. The houses are beautifully decorated with lights and flowers and every Christian house will have a lovely Christmas tree. The splendor with which they celebrate the Christian festivals is worth seeing. Given here are some major Christian festivals of Goa. Good Friday Every genuine Catholic in Goa celebrates Good Friday with much devotion and enthusiasm. The Christians decorate their houses beautifully and the celebrations usually go on till Easter Sunday. The churches of Goa are beautifully decorated and all devout Christians visit the churches and take part in the celebrations. Christmas Christmas is undoubtedly the most popular Christian festival in not just Goa, but all over India. The entire state looks like a little paradise that is decorated in shades of red, green and white. December 25th is a very important holiday in Goa and the entire state is decorated with gleaming streamers. Every shop has its own Santa Claus to attract customers and it is the perfect time for merry making. St. Xavier's Feast The feast of St. Xavier is celebrated every year on the 3rd December, marking the death anniversary of this revered saint. St. Xavier was a saint who came to Goa along with the Portuguese to propagate the teachings of Christianity to people. He was respected by one and all in Goa and people followed whatever he taught. All through Goa, elaborate feasts are organized in the honor of this saint on this festival. Margao Feast Every year in the month of Nay, the Margao Feast is celebrated in the commercial town of Margao. People from all over Goa come to Margao to celebrate this festival with joy and enthusiasm. Feasting and celebration takes place in a large scale all over Margao.

Feast of Three Kings
Location: Old Goa, Panaji Highlights: Elaborate feasting and celebrations in Goa Duration: 9 days, commences on January 6th A very popular event in Goa is the Feast of Three Kings. It is celebrated every year in the month of January during the holy Epiphany. This is one Christian festival that is celebrated with much joy by the Hindus as well. The Feast of Three Kings is celebrated in the honor of the Three Kings of Magi who came with gifts for infant Jesus Christ. It is said that a boulder on a nearby hill has two sets of footprints; one of an infant and one of an adult. It is said that the Virgin Mary and the infant rested here in order to let their horse quench its thirst. Though it is not known how true this legend is, it is also said that the place where the Chapel of Remedios is located was once the site of a Hindu temple. This is also one reason why Hindus flock here in large numbers with incense sticks and candles to worship the lord. Every year in January, a vast procession is taken up the hill to the holy chapel and is marked by vivid celebrations and merry making. A carnival like atmosphere is created and a fair is organized where all small knick knacks and other items can be purchased. The best part of the festival is at the end when Three Kings of Magi are chosen from the crowd. They are usually three small kids between the age groups of 8 - 10. The whole crowd gathers around them as they head up the hill in a colorful procession. There is merriment and dancing all the way to the hill top. The three "kings" come from different routes and meet at the hill top amidst a cheering crowd.

Goa Hindu Festivals
Hinduism is the pre-dominant religion in Goa. Though the long years of Portugal have left the Christian influence on Goa, yet Goa has not forgotten its roots and maximum people follow Hinduism. Thus Hindu festivals in Goa are celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm. The best part is that all people celebrate all major festivals as Goans and not as Hindus, Muslims or Christians. The amazing amount of religious tolerance in them is truly commendable. Given here are some major Hindu festivals that are celebrated in Goa. Ganesha Chaturthi Considered as the most popular and widely celebrated Hindu festival in Goa, Ganesha Chaturthi is dedicated to the birthday of Lord Ganesha, the Elephant God in Hindu mythology. It is celebrated around the months of August - September in Goa and due to the influence of the nearby state of Maharashtra; it has gained much popularity and fame in Goa as well. Ganesha Chaturthi wins hands down as the most popular festival in Goa. Holi Holi is the famous festival of colors that is celebrated to mark the end of winters and the beginning of the spring season. It is celebrated with much joy in all parts of northern and central India. People irrespective of age, caste and religion come together and smear colored powder and drench each other with colored water. Dusshera The festival of Dusshera is another major Hindu festival that is celebrated in Goa. It is celebrated just before another popular festival known as Diwali. In the festival of Dusshera, huge dummies of the Demon King Ravana (of the Hindu epic Ramayana) and his two brothers are burnt all over the state, which marks the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana. Diwali / Deepawali Also known as the "festival of lights" Diwali is celebrated all over India and Goa with much enthusiasm and fervor. All homes are cleaned from top to bottom and are decorated with flowers and small earthen lamps around evening. Children burst firecrackers and burn effigies of the Demon king Ravana, known as Narakasur in Goa. Janamashtami Janmashtami is a famous festival of the Hindus and is celebrated to mark the birthday of Lord Krishna. This festival usually comes around August - September according to the Hindu calendar. People visit temples to pray and decorate their houses beautifully with flowers. Young boys usually hang a small earthen pot that is filled with buttermilk known as "Dahi Handi" at a height of around 9 - 10 feet (sometimes higher). They then form a pyramid by standing on top of one another and attempt to break the pot while the people around cheer them and attempt to break their pyramid by pouring water.

Goa Muslim Festivals
Goa does not quite have a sizeable Muslim population and it ranks after Hindus and Christians. Though there are not many Muslim festivals in Goa, the main ones are celebrated with much joy and enthusiasm. The two main Muslim festivals that are celebrated in Goa are Id-ul-Fitr and Id-ul-Zuha. The Muslim colonies are beautifully decorated with streamers and elaborate feasts are prepared in Muslim households. Id-ul-Fitr Id-ul-Fitr is a very important festival of Muslims. This festival is celebrated with much fervor by all Muslims all over India. In Goa, the Muslims prepare elaborate feasts and gather with family and close friends to celebrate. It is an important festival for the Muslims as it marks the end of the Ramzan month. Id-ul-Zuha Id-ul-Zuha is celebrated by the Muslims to commemorate the sacrifice of Prophet Abraham's son. In Goa and all over India, Muslims prepare elaborate feasts and gather with friends and family to celebrate this auspicious occasion.

Zatra of Shantadurga
Location: Places like Mapusa, Panaji and Pernem in Goa Highlights: Colorful procession dedicated to Goddess Shantadurga Time of Celebration: December - January A very important event in Goa is the Zatra of Shantadurga. It is basically a colorful procession that is taken out in places like Mapusa, Pernem, etc. in Goa. The Zatra of Shantadurga is usually taken out in the month of December or January. The dates vary according to the Hindu calendar which is based on lunar cycles. The "Zatra" or procession is marked by colorful festivities and merry making. Sri Shantadurga is considered to be a peace loving Goddess and this procession is taken out to honor her. According to legends, Sri Shanta Durga was the Goddess who reasonably settled a major dispute between Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. In Goa, there are basically three Hindu temples that worship Sri Shantadurga. These temples are located at Pernem, Kavlem and Footrope. These three places celebrate this festival with much zest and enthusiasm. The Zatra attracts scores of devotees every year in the month of December. The procession of the Shantadurga is very beautiful to look at. The entire day people indulge in merrymaking and sing and dance to begin the start of the procession. At night, beautifully decorated chariots bearing the idol of the Goddess take rounds of the nearby areas and spread goodwill and cheer all around. The chariots are decorated with colorful paper and streamers and idol is beautifully adorned with gleaming clothes and jewelry. It is a must visit in case you are visiting Goa in the month of December.

Shigmo Festival
Location: Throughout Goa Highlights: Colorful parade, grand feasting and merry making Duration: Almost a fortnight One of the most celebrated events in Goa is the Shigmo festival. It is celebrated all through Goa in a grand manner. The Shigmo festival in Goa lasts almost a fortnight and is celebrated with much joy and fervor among the Goans. The Shigmo festival is known as Shigmotsav in Goa. It is similar to the festival known as Holi that is celebrated in north India. People enjoy this festival by playing with colored powder and water with friends and relatives. The Shigmo festival is celebrated around March every year and the dates vary according to the Hindu calendar that is based on lunar cycles. It is celebrated just before the Catholic time period of lent during which fasting and abstinence from alcohol and other vices is observed. Since the period of lent lasts almost a month, the Shigmo festival is celebrated to indulge in merry making "one last time". The Shigmo festival starts with the appearance of the moon on the ninth day and ends on the full moon day. Shigmo festival is celebrated by organizing large fairs and parades in Goa. Many small communities and groups of people come together and prepare colorful tableaux. They dress up as colorful characters and take part in the processions actively with much enthusiasm. Most of these tableaux are based on mythology and many popular legends. Some tableaux also depict important happenings depicted in the holy epics. It is basically a time to enjoy to the hilt and indulge in true festive spirit of Goa.

Feast of St. Francis Xavier
Location: Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa Highlights: Small fairs and carnival like atmosphere all over, marks the death anniversary of Saint Francis Xavier Time of Celebration: December 3rd The feast of St. Francis Xavier is one of the most important festivals in Goa. Though essentially a Christian festival, all Goans irrespective of their caste and religious faiths come to the Basilica of Bom Jesus located in Old Goa to participate in the feast. St. Francis Xavier was revered saint who came to Goa along with the Portuguese in order to spread Christianity. His mortal remains are still preserved in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa. The Saint Francis Feast is celebrated every year on December 3rd to mark the death anniversary of the saint. He was affectionately called Goincho Saib or the Lord of Goa. He died while going on a voyage to China. It is said that when his body was brought to Goa after an year to be buried, it was found that the body was as fresh as ever. This was deemed to be a miracle and his body was preserved in a glass coffin inside a beautiful silver casket. Thousands of devotees come from all over the world during the feast to pay respect to the saint. During the Feast of St. Xavier, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is decorated beautifully and entire Goa comes alive with celebrations and merrymaking. Since this occasion is an important one, people from all over the world come here to participate in the proceedings. The mass prayers begin as early as 4 am and people come from all over to take part in it. The feast usually is celebrated for around 9 days.

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