Magical beaches, stunning sunsets and a never ending cafe hop – is this all your Goa experience is usually limited to? If you take a step forward from just drinking yourself silly in Goa, there are a rainbow of experiences to be had and several sides of Goa to be explored.
How about a calendar of festivals in Goa that gives you a sneak peek into the colourful lives of the locals to bring you a step closer to the Goan culture and people?
Festivals in Goa
Feast Of Three Kings
Date: 6th January 2020
Venue: The Church Of Our Lady Of The Mount, Old Goa
At a feast celebrated by both Christians and Hindus, three boys from Cansaulim, Arossim and Cuelim dressed up as the Three Kings parade towards the chapel on horseback with a cheering local crowd taking the same gifts for baby Jesus as the Three Kings did.
Date: 10th to 13th February, 2020.
Where: Celebrated across the entire state.
With masked revellers parading through the streets and festivities across the entire state of Goa, Goa Carnival is an experience for every outsider who reaches this destination celebrating with full throttle. The festivities begin on Ash Wednesday with the first parade organised in Panjim. Music performances, fun, food and dance – the carnival brings out the side of Goa it is best known for.
Date: To be announced
Where: Panjim's 18th June Road and also at Ponda, Vasco, Margao and Mapusa.
This festival is Goa's answer to Holi and every year 'The Shigmo' is celebrated as per the Hindu calendar. As the biggest festival for the Hindus in Goa, Shigmotsav is a representational celebration of the homecoming of the warriors after Dusshera and marks the end of winters in Goa. The grand finale is a spectacular procession with wonderfully lit up floats.
Date: April 1, 2020
Where: Church of Mary Immaculate Conception, Panaji and across the entire state.
The ceremony of the Way of the Cross where Christ walks towards Mount Calvary before crucifixion, is re-enacted during the processions on Easter Sunday. It takes places at the end of the 40 days of Lent and hundreds of formally-dressed locals participate in this solemn procession that starts from the church and is carried out across the streets of the city.
Date: Schedule subject to Hindu Calendar
Where: Shirgao, Bicholim taluka, East of Mapusa
Zatra is a Konkani word for Hindu pilgrimage and this festival is celebrated in the honour of goddess Lairai. Local Goans travel from nearby villages to the location to participate in the rituals where they first take a bath in the local water tanks and then proceed towards the temple as an act of penance. The fire walk by the people of the Dhond tribe is a spectacle and the rituals around the bonfire last all night long.
Date: June 24
Where: Boat Races are organised at Siolim, North Goa's Bardez Taluka
June 24 is the day of the feast of St John The Baptist and Sao Joao is one of the most popular Christian feasts in Goa. Colourfully-decorated boats tied up together float on the streams and are paraded around the important locations of celebration. Well tanked with feni, the young crowd wearing coronets of flowers gather near the wells and streams and jump in as a sign of celebration of the birth of Christ.
Ponsachem (Jackfruit Festival)
Date: June 24
Where: Socorro Village
Celebrated on the day of Sao Joao, Ponsachem is the jackfruit festival marking the cultural importance of the fruit in this state. Socorro Socio-Art and Cultural Association, Porvorim organises the festivities in some of the villages of Goa. Local savoury preparations made of jackfruit are served on this day.
Date: Celebrated on the twelfth day of the fourth month of Ashadh in the Hindu calendar.
Where: Temple grounds village Marcel, Ponda Taluka, North Goa
The festivities take place in the premises of the Devki-Krishna Mandir of Marcel during monsoons. People enjoy mud baths, as a way to celebrate the fun and games enjoyed by Lord Krishna and his friends. Traditional games such as Chendu fali (cricket-like game), vitti dandu (gilli danda) are played along with other popular sports that locals enjoy playing in the rain.
Date: 4th Saturday of August
Where: Island of Divar
Around 12 kilometres away from Panjim, in the Island of Divar, crowds parade through the streets on this day with multi-coloured flags to demarcate the boundaries of various clans on this island. The festival is celebrated to remember the disputes between the clans that exist since the Portuguese Era. Fancy dress competitions and traditional float parades are one of the must-see aspects during the celebrations on this day.
Date: Subject to change according to the Hindu Calendar
Where: Panaji, Margao, Mapusa, Vasco and Ponda
On the Eve of Diwali, demon effigies of Narkasur are paraded through the streets of the major towns of Goa. The effigies are designed by the local craftsmen who indulge in detailed preparations of the event months before the day of celebration. Competitions are organised locally and the celebration marks the beginning of Diwali in the state.
Date: Dates subject to change according to the Hindu Calendar
Where: Banks of river Valvanthi in Sanquelim
The festival marks the end of celebrations of Diwali in Goa. On the bank of the river Valvanthi, various boat competitions are organised where miniature boats made by contestants are set on display for the competition. The crowd also gets a chance to witness incredible song and dance performances by local Goan performers.
Mary Immaculate Conception Church Feast
Date: 8th December
Where: Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church, Panjim, Goa
The celebrations in the month of December begin at one of the most popular churches in Goa, Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church on feast day. Early in the month, Mary Immaculate Conception Church feast is a three-day event celebrated in this centrally-located church in Panjim City. Local markets are set up around the church during the festivities which are a must visit for travellers who are in Goa during this time of the year.
Date: December 25
Where: All around Goa
It's common knowledge that the end of the year is the best time to be in Goa. With the entire state celebrating the biggest festival of the year, Christmas clubbed with New Year Eve is the most incredible time you can spend in Goa. Christmas carols, stunningly-decorated churches and houses and finely-dressed locals in a festive mood, make it the best spot to visit in the entire country.
Have you been to any of these festivals in goa? Which of these festivals in Goa is your favourite? Share in the comments below!