India > Goa > Goa Culture
Goa CultureThe culture of Goa is a unique synthesis of indigenous elements and extraneous influence. Throughout its chequered history, Goa has nurtured and preserved local art and culture despite being repeatedly conquered by invading forces. The long rule of the Portuguese has influenced the Goan culture in more ways than one and in many aspects of the culture of Goa one witnesses a seamless blend of ethnic and Portuguese traditions.
Dance and music are an integral part of the Goa culture and the jovial, warm people of Goa express themselves with colorful performances. Goa is the treasure trove of exquisite art and crafts and tourists visiting the state take artifacts as souvenirs. Communal harmony is an amazing facet of the culture of Goa with the people carving a unique Goan identity irrespective of their religious persuations.
The Goa trance is a distinctive sub-class of the trance music genre. Trance music is a form of fast-paced electronic dance music usually characterized by a tempo of between 130 and 160 bpm, featuring repeating melodic synthesizer phrases. Also known as 604 in trance music parlance, Goa trance developed as a structured music form in the late 1980s.
The idyllic beaches of Goa were the genesis of the Goa trance music. During the 1960s and 1970s, Goan beaches such Anjuna emerged as a favorite rendezvous for the hippies, the flower children of the counterculture era. Music was a way of life for the hippies and their experiments with electronic music sowed the seeds for the birth of Goa trance music.
After being confined to the Hippies for the greater part of the 1980s, the Goa trance music started making a conspicuous presence from the early 1990s. The heydays of Goa trance music were around the period 1994-1998, and since then its popularity has been on the wane. In recent years, Goa trance has been largely replaced by its successor, psychedelic trance or psy trance.
Beach Party in GoaIf you want to party, there is no place on this planet like Goa. Goa is synonymous with partying and the land is chock a bloc with party zones on every nook and corner. Beach parties, trance parties, New Year parties -- parties of myriad hues keep the Goan life throbbing with dynamic energy all year round.
The famous beaches of Goa are havens for party animals and the landscape is dotted with trendy discos and nightclubs. Vacationers and locals throng these party zones to dance the night away amid the beats of hip hop music. Some of the most popular party zones in Goa are Club Tito's in Baga beach, Club Antos in Calangute beach and Club Cabana at Arpora, 3 km from Calangute.
Trance parties or Goa raves are another exotic facet of the Goa party culture. The trance parties took root in Goa courtesy the hippies who arrived on the Goa beaches in the 1960s. Accompanied by the techno beats of psychedelic trance, the trance parties continued till the wee hours. Even though the hippie influx petered out in the 1990s, trance or raves are still very much a part of the nightlife in the Goa beaches.
The history of Goa is steeped in mythological roots. An ancient land, Goa finds mention in Hindu epics as Gomantak, literally meaning 'fertile land with plentiful water.' The first major dynasty to have ruled over Goa was the Satavahanas under who Goa flourished as a prominent center of maritime trade. After the fall of the Satavahana Empire, a number of Hindu kingdoms including the Bhojas, badami Chalukyas and the Kadambas held sway in the land of Goa.
As these kingdoms gradually faded into the sunset, Goa became the target of Muslim invaders who indulged in mass scale destruction and looting of temples. The carnage was brought to a halt when the Vijayanagar rulers annexed Goa in 1378. But the Bahmani Sultanate invaded Goa again in 1470 and subsequently Goa came under the rule of Sultan Yusuf Adil Shah of Bijapur.
After noted Portuguese voyager Vasco da Gama arrived in Kapukad in 1498, the Portuguese started gunning for Goa. Alfonso de Albuquerque succeeded in invading Goa in 1510 and the Portuguese under his leadership started fortifying their positions. In their effort to bring the whole of Goa under them, the Portuguese locked horns with Sultan Adil Shah over a prolonged period of time that resulted in the Old Conquests of Tiswadi, Bardez and Salcete.
Along with territory expansion, the Portuguese indulged in mass scale persecution of the Hindus characterized by destruction of temples and forced conversions. This led to resentment among the local population and they launched a number of futile assaults to dethrone the Portuguese. Notable among these are the Pinto Revolt in 1787 and the rebellion by the Ranes.
The revolts gradually petered out and Goa remained a part of Portuguese dominions for the years to come. With the independence of India in 1947, many expected an imminent demise of the Portuguese rule in Goa but it remained a pipedream due to the peaceful policy of the Indian government led by Jawaharlal Nehru. On 18-19 December, 1961 the Indian Army entered Goa as all efforts to resolve the imbroglio proved futile due to the adamant attitude of Portuguese dictator Salazar.
Goa MusicMusic occupies the pride of place in the cultural milieu of Goa. Goans are born musicians and music runs deep in their veins. Apart from being a vast repository of folk music forms, Goa is also the cradle of a number of Western music forms. True to the rich heritage, Goa has produced some of the finest musicians of India. Lata Mangeshkar, the prima donna of Indian music, and her sister Asha Bhosle hail from Goa.
Manddo is the most ubiquitous form of folk music in Goa. Essentially a love song, Manddo is regarded a synthesis of Indian and western musical forms. Manddo evolved as a traditional musical form in the 1840s and is basically performed by the Catholic Christians in Goa. Dhulpad, the concludiong part of Manddo, is a derivative of Goan folk music and predates the main Manddo performance. An assortment of musical instruments such as the ghumat (traditional Goan percussion instrument), the violin and the guitar accompanies a Manddo performance.
Ovi songs are a form of wedding music predominantly seen among the Hindu community in Goa. Womenfolk sing Ovi songs while applying the coconut-pulp milk to the bride and groom and while preparing condiments for dinners etc. When the Christian missionaries descended on Goa to reach Christianity, they imbibed biblical themes in the Ovi songs to win over the locals. People would often congregate around a fire or a cross and reverently sing Ovi songs composed by the missionaries in Konkani.
Goa Popular Music
Apart from the traditional music forms, Goa also has a vibrant popular music culture. Goa is widely regarded the birthplace of Goa trance music which was developed by the hippies way back in 1960s. Pop music also enjoys a firm footing in Goa and pop singer Remo Fernandez is one of the most famous musicians in Goa.
Religions in Goa
Religions in GoaGoans are deeply pious people and religion play an important role in the Goan society. Hinduism and Christianity are the two major religions in Goa, together constituting around 95% of the population. The Goan society epitomizes the ethos of religious tolerance and despite the bitter memories of the Inquisition, people with different religious persuasions have peacefully co-existed throughout the ages.
Hinduism is the dominant religion in Goa. A large number of prominent Hindu temples scatter across the length and breadth of Goa. The long rule of the Portuguese tried to crush the Hindus with widespread destruction of temples and forcefully converting thousands of Hindus. But Hinduism still survived in Goa and devotees clandestinely carried on worshipping their deities in makeshift temples. Ponda is regarded the cradle of Hinduism in Goa and there is a profusion of sacred Hindu temples in and around Goa.
Christianity arrived on the Goan shores courtesy the priests accompanying the traders from Portugal. The missionaries preached Christianity and also contributed to the development of the native Konkani language. During the Inquisition, thousands of locals were converted to Christianity and that period witnessed a proliferation of churches in Goa. Besides being prominent religious institutions, churches play a prominent role in Goa's social fabric.
Goa has a minuscule Muslim population. During the reign of Sultan Adil Shah of Bijapur, Goa witnessed a proliferation of mosques and other Islamic monuments. The Safa Shahouri mosque in Ponda is the biggest mosque in Goa. The Muslim community in Goa celebrates their traditional festivals with religious fervor and devotion.
People of Goa
The people of Goa are as special as the land itself. Warm and friendly in nature, the Goan people are known for the excellent hospitality they accord to visiting guests. Despite successive invasions by alien forces, the people of Goa have managed to retain their unique identity.
As far as demographics are concerned, 65% of the population are Hindus while Christians constitute 30%. Christianity in Goa is a legacy of the Portuguese rule when thousands of Goans were forcefully converted as part of the infamous Inquisition. All these atrocities notwithstanding, over the years the people of Goa have peacefully co-existed in a glorious manifestation of religious harmony.
Irrespective of religious affiliations, the Goan people have carved a unique character that oozes oodles of charm. They are a bunch of happy-go-lucky people with a smiling disposition and pleasant manners.