Flavour of the Feast

There is a feast round the year in Goa. A feast day is generally the birthday of a Catholic saint and with hundreds of churches and chapels dedicated to different patron saints, there are a couple of feasts virtually every month. And believe you me that it is a must visit - your Goan experience is truly incomplete without one.

A feast is like a village fair. A street market pops up selling snacks, toys, traditional crafts, tools, local CDs, clothes, furniture etc. The church, or it may even be a roadside cross, is decorated, often with colourful streamers and coconut fronds. People sell you candles and flowers, the altar is glittering with lights and flowers, people are dressed in “festive” clothes, which are rather bright and shiny. Aka, you are in the delightful company. “Wish you a Happy Feast” and you should line up like the rest and make the offering.

Start by getting yourself a paper cone of roasted peanuts or gram. That stall is a must in every feast. You can also try the local sweetmeats in an adjoining stall. Then, munching along your snack, proceed to the toy vendors. Get yourself an LED hairband or a mask or a bubble blower. After this you can go to the tools stall and get yourself a traditional coconut cleaver as a souvenir and or a lampshade made of shells. But for the nice stuff you have to hunt a bit.

Music is always part of the celebrations. There is the melancholy singing of the hymns with weeping violins. Sometimes there is a popular song contest, even a fancy dress competition, a session of Tambola perhaps, followed by a 'TIATR' a Konkani play.

While some of this is common to all feasts, there are many special ones. The feast of San Joao involves jumping in the wells and drinking lots of Feni while wearing 'copels' or decorative crowns of flowers and petals on the head. On the feast of San Pedro floating processions are taken out on the rivers. On the feast of Three Kings a procession is taken out re-enacting the scene from the mythology. So look up the calendar when visiting Goa and never miss the occasion. They are too fantastic to miss.

Goa also has a new genre of feasts, festivals rather, created and curated by local people, to celebrate various aspects of local Goan tradition. There is the Konkan fruit festival during the summer season where varieties of fruit and berries are displayed. The mango stall is always the biggest attraction. There is a plants festival where seeds and saplings are displayed and sold. There is the local artisans festival where one can get craft items and local pickles.

And then there is Marius Fernandes, the 'festival man' of Goa, who has created festivals celebrating local food music and culture, like the 'Ghumtanchem Fest' celebrating the ‘Ghumat’ – the traditional Goan percussion instrument, or the 'Poderanchem Fest' celebrating the 'Poder' or the baker and the tradition of baking in Goa. These festivals, as the 'festival man' proudly proclaims, have no sponsors, so prizes, no chief guests. All the arrangements are a community affair – the food, the music, the performances, the decorations, the arrangements, all done by people of the village. These festivals are round the year, so do include them as a part of your itinerary during your next visit.

At Aashyana we encourage a culturally sensitive kind of tourism. We encourage you to discover the local way of life and indigenous traditions. You are sure to takeaway flavors that are delightful and enriching and your Goa experience will be all the more wonderful!

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