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Goan Culture
Goa, a former Portuguese territory, for more than 450 years is often described as 'The Rome of the East'. It has over the past decades, become the dream holiday destination, for many a foreign tourist. More than 40 years after the departure of the Portuguese, Goa is perhaps the most westernized of all the states in Modern India. The majority of Goans are very bohemian. Easy going in nature, enjoying a typical 'tropical lifestyle'; including the 'siesta', which is usually from 1pm to 4pm, the hottest part of the day. Music, dance, drama, food and feni, are a few of the things most Goans are passionate about.
Goan Culture - A Goan farmers ride
The Immaculate Conception church in the capital Panaji
Religion is very important to the Goans. Whether it is Catholic, Hindu or Muslim. Churches, Temples and Mosques abound wherever you journey in Goa. Some of the churches are placed in spectacular, and very difficult locations. Though, Goa is a multi-ethnic state, Goans are very tolerant towards each other's faiths; while unfortunately this is not true of the rest of this country.

The majority Hindu community and the sizeable Catholic minority have lived in peace and harmony for decades and centuries. They participate in each other's many feasts. Many Hindus attend the novenas during the feast of St. Francis Xavier (the patron saint of Goa), as the Catholics take part in the zagors and zatras. It is not rare to see young Catholics at local Hindu temples during the feast of Dusshera. They consider it auspicious to have their vehicles blessed by the temple priest on that day.

A few days before lent, many colorful carnivals are held, in all the major towns in Goa. Then, a few days later comes the Shigmo (Hindu festival of spring) distinctive parades go along the very same streets, with many kaleidoscopic floats and frenzied dancers. On these occasions both communities participate.

The People
One of the things that make Goa unique, are the laws, a legacy that the Portuguese have left behind. The common civil code, confers equal status to all religions, it favors no particular religion. The law also accords equal legal status to both sexes, in all matters. Perhaps, this is why the local women and girls of Goa are not so shy and reclusive, in stark contrast to the rest of India. Most Goan ladies dress in western fashion dresses and skirts, rather than the more tradition (in India) Saree and Churidar. Of course being used to tourists from around the globe, and the European influence of the Portuguese are the main reasons for this. As part of the Indian subcontinent where conservatism is traditional, the Goans are flamboyant and out going. The women are attractive and in step with the latest trends of the west. The young men bear themselves with a distinct air of machismo; they love football, bullfighting and automobiles, they are quick to smile - or fight. Goa, itself is often stunningly beautiful. The roadsides are bright with cascades of bougainvillea; the forests are alive with iridescent butterflies, and kingfishers so brilliant that they seem to glow from within. Just after the monsoons, in the flooded paddy fields, a horde of workers can be seen preparing for the new crop. Yes, Goa is a beautiful land, with wonderfully hospitable people.
The people of Goa are generally well educated; the literacy rate is high. Despite this, the caste system is up and running, in defiance of government laws. Even the Catholics have their casts, borrowed from the casts of their Hindu forefathers. Thus one is not at all surprised to see a matrimonial advert in the papers (or even on this site) that reads; 'Wanted for Goan RC (Roman Catholic) Brahmin bachelor…!' In spite of strict laws against dowry, the system is still around, albeit very hush-hush.
The bustling Mapusa fishmarket

Sports are very popular with the locals. Bull fighting (Dhirio) used to draw huge crowds, but now the courts have banned it. Unlike in Portugal, it is not man against bull, but bull against bull. The Dhirios were held in the local paddy fields, no walls or fences to separate the audience from the fighting bulls. Consequently, sometimes a spectator was gored or killed. For this reason the fights were banned. Although gambling is illegal, vast sums of money used to change hands at these fights. The two main sports of interest now, are the usual football and cricket. In Football, Goa has got more first league teams than any other state in India. On any given day there is sure to be a tournament or match, in one or more of the villages.

The staple diet of Goa is fish curry and rice. Unlike the rest of India, most Hindus in Goa eat fish. In the monsoons, when no fresh fish is available, most Goans have very long faces. The other favorite dish is pork, although chicken is a close second. In Goa like many other places in the world, alcohol, for some, is a major problem. The main cause of which is FENI. This is the local drink in Goa, made from either coconut sap or cashew fruit.

Goans are very proud of their state, and are well prepared to fight for its protection. Environmental issues feature prominently, but often lack firmness in dealing with issues related to government utilities, administrative corruption and horrendous government services.

Goans love music.It is an integral part of their lives. Music in Goa covers a broad spectrum, from Portuguese music to Techno to Rave and the now the (in)famous Goa Trance. The local radio station AIR (All India Radio) mostly plays music in Konkani, Hindi and English. Though occasionally, we still get to hear some Portuguese music. The DJ's are awful to say the least, talking far too long between each piece of music. They read out endless lists of requests, which, by their continuous stumbling, is clearly unrehearsed.
Singers and Tiatr (Goan Theatre)

Some of the singers and dramatists, who have become household names, include Prince Jacob, Alfred Rose, Tony King, Kid Boxer, Souza Boy, M.Boyer, Emiliano D'cruz, Rosario Rodrigues and J. B. Rod.

A lot of the music churned out today (2 to 3 releases per month) is from 'Tiatre' (Konkani theatre), which are mainly melodramas about family and domestic life. Each lyricist will offer his own explanation for life's varied problems, often coloured by individual prejudices. Although there are quite a few 'Tiartist' who produce plays with political satire. Notable, is William de Curtorim.

Love became a theme, mainly in the songs of the Jazz artistes, and the classy composer Chris Perry. His ballads, immortalized by singer Lorna, remain all time favorites. Lorna has now returned to Konkani music after a gap of almost 28 Years. Bombay-based, Alfred Rose, is believed to be among the first to actually cut cassettes, and records of his music, with printed lyrics to accompany them.

The Goan economy is highly dependent on tourism, which brings in the much-needed foreign currency. This has caused the mushrooming of hotels, resorts and other tourist related businesses, all along the northern coastal area. The exports of iron and manganese ores are also big earners for Goa. If tourism is the bread and butter then mining is the jam. In Goa unlike the rest of India the mining industry is privately owned and not controlled by the government. Sadly enough, Goa is also an exporter of manpower. Most of those leaving its shores are highly skilled in their respective fields. As a matter of fact, Goa is more becoming like a "Retiree's Place". The Working local Goan population is getting to be mostly middle aged, as most young people are either working in the Arabian Gulf region, or migrated to USA, Australia or New Zealand. So this is Goa, amche Goem - its culture and people. Want to visit? Book your hotel now
Nikkis Medicare, G4, Donna Rosa, Near Pousada Touma - Mapusa Road, Porba Vaddo, Calangute, Bardez, Goa - India, 403516 .
Phone(s):+91 832 227 5795 / +91 832 228 1947 Fax:+91 832 227 5795 Mobile:+91 98230 12025