Sunday, March 11, 2007

Shigmotsav-Goan Cultural Festival

Shigmo in Goa is essentially a festival of the masses. It is celebrated under different names and in different ways in various parts of the country. This is the festival of farewell to winter celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalguna (March), the last month of the Hindu calendar.

In Goa, which has always been a land of temples, Shigmo begins with Naman or collective obeisance of villagers from 9th moon day to full moon day. During all these days, they are expected to "shun" non-vegetarian food and all intoxicants. The highlight of this festival which is celebrated all over the state is the procession of mythological floats taken around in the four main cities.

Thousands of people get together to watch this festival. The procession begins with the dancers who carry colourful sticks and flags dancing to a typical beat of the "dhol" or the drum. These men are villagers who are perfect in their art. The dancers in a way make up the atmosphere for welcoming the huge floats that follow them. These floats are mythological representations. Included are those of Lord Krishna.

Goa has since long been associated with the carnival culture but Shigmo is what we can call a truly Goan celebration. The festival marks the beginning of the domestic tourist season in the state.

The multiple shades of colours and footprints of the various dynasties that ruled Goa are seen fused and expressed in an artistic manner through these dances. The processions are taken through the major towns like Panaji, Margao, Mapusa, Vasco and Ponda.

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