Fairs and Festivals of Goa
Travel to Goa to Catch the Festive Spirit
Goa Fairs and Festivals see the most number of tourists and travellers floating in from far and near. During the festive seasons, hotels, resorts and homestays remain completely booked; and also accommodation and food along with other facilities see rocket-high prices. Guests continue to pour from all corners of the globe to experience the magic of Goa that is at its best during the festive seasons. We advise all our guests to book way in advance to avoid paying surcharges of late booking and also to avoid the disappointment of not getting the best of stays. Longer duration packages should be booked along inclusive of sightseeing and food packages. Food prices also remain all-time high during the festive months.
Goa Carnival is a fantastic example of the most amazing fun and festivities that begin at the onset of winters every year and lure hundreds of travellers and tourists from far and near. The fantabulous Goa winter festivities of the months of December and January spans through the holiday season. These begin with the Christmas celebrations and continues till the onset of the New Year. The celebrations continue till the days of Goa Carnival which also marks the pre-Mardi Gras revelry. This occasion is a remembrance of a dated tradition from the time of Portuguese occupancy in Goa as far back as in the year 1510.
The origin of the festival of Goa Carnival dates back several centuries. The Christian tradition of Mardi Gras frequently referred to as Fat Wednesday spells out the joys of carnival celebrations. Goa Carnival is celebrated remembering the culture and authentic recipes of good Goanese food. It is celebrated on a grand scale annually. The people revel in the tradition of sumptuous feasts of food and drinks accompanied by exuberant dancing. This four-day long extravaganza is observed throughout the state with great enthusiasm and zeal.
Goa Carnival celebrations include a variety of tourist entertainment activities. The guests also participate in the festivities by feasting, and taking part in various joyous activities, primarily constituting lots of eating and drinking. The rich tradition of colourful and boisterous parades crossing the various streets of Goa, where the participants dance away to glory accompanied by live bands is a scene not to be missed. The festivities roll up till deep in the night and city forgets to sleep. The whole city comes to life with bright decorations, lights and music. The dancers look enthralling wearing exotic masks and colourful costumes.
Feast of Three Kings
The Feast of Three Kings in Goa is dedicated to Virgin Mary. It is a tribute to ‘Our Lady of The Mount’, a statue of Virgin Mary holding infant Jesus to Her bosom. She is considered the supreme Lady and the protector of the people in general. On this occasion, the statue of Mother Mary is adorned with jewellery. Ardent devotees gather all around to seek her blessings and offer their prayers. The Festival of the Three Kings is typically held after twelve days of Christmas.
This celebration marks the occasion of the mythologically famous visit of the three wise Magi to infant Jesus. The legends reverberate with the belief that the boulder on an adjacent hills bears the footprints of Virgin Mary and baby Jesus. This is the place known to be the destination where they both rested before going to the Hill of Remedies.
Also, according to local beliefs, the site of the current Chapel of Remedios is believed to have been the former site of a Hindu Temple. Thus this site is visited each year by thousands of Christian and Hindu devotees who consider this journey as their annual pilgrimage. They fervently offer their prayers to Madonna, light candles in her honour, offer flowers and also light incense sticks.
The festival of the Feast of Three Kings is a ten-day long affair. People indulge in continual dance, music and feasting. The spirits of the common people are at their festive best. The first nine days of celebration are marked by visiting the Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount to seek her blessings.
The last day of the festival has a unique twist in which three little boys in the age group of 8 and 10 are dressed up as the three wise magi who brought gifts for infant Jesus. The boys are usually selected from the local village inhabitants and they dress up gorgeously to play the part of virtual king for a day.
The kid kings reach the chapel to offer lavish gifts to Mother Mary and then each of them follow a distinct route and keep getting cheered by an animated crowd. The ritual is later on marked by a grand fete and fair. Lots of shops sell a wide variety of things, such as copper, brassware, colourful jewellery, furniture, clothes, household items, toys, trinkets, bangles and spices. The Feast of the Three Kings is celebrated on January 6th but celebrations begin exactly nine days before that.
Christmas in Goa
Christmas is a global festival and is celebrated in each and every corner with a lot of fanfare and gusto. This is a universal festival that brings all people from different caste and creed together in a unified celebration mode. Goa in Christmas is absolutely charming and presents a huge attraction to the people both domestic and international. India being a secular country, Goa celebrates a lot of festivals but Christmas is somewhat special in Goa and sets it apart with an extra glamour quotient. The frenzy of joyous revelry lights up the whole state.
The streets are brightly lit up and the shops as well as the houses and every building is decorated with Christmas trees and glittering lights and tokens of Mistletoes, miniature gifts, bells and more. The Churches assume special significance and are the centres of all activities. Christmas carols are sung with reverence and the melodious choirs fill the air. Christmas Eve onwards celebration peaks. Special cakes, cookies and other bakery products are prepared with love and care to distribute among family and friends. Charity and donations are carried out to practice piety. While on one side you find the long line of peaceful devotes offering their prayers in the chapels and churches, on the other hand there would be the joy of frenzied gala celebrations with food and drinks. People dress up in their best of clothing and set out to party all through the night. The mild winter sun and the beach parties steal the show. While the celebrations start from 24th December onwards, the exuberance can be felt long after till the first week of January.
Feast of St. Francis Xavier
St Francis Xavier is a specially revered figure of Goa. People take this occasion of Feast of St. Francis Xavier to pay homage to this patron saint. It is a lavish celebration full with fervour and joy. Right from 21st November to 2nd January, believers of Christian faith and followers of St Francis Xavier gather from all corners of the globe in remembrance of the death anniversary of the saint that is commemorated on the 3rd of December. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is the building that shelters the mortal remains of the saint in a silver casket which is open for public viewing and paying homage.
St. Francis Xavier is fondly referred to by the local people as Goencho Saib that literally means Lord of Goa. He was a harbinger of faith from the West here in Goa to spread Christianity. The eventful day of December 3rd is the day of his burial. Prayers are conducted for nine long days with utter devotion which is known as Novena. A variety of ceremonies are carried out in the honour of the Saint Lord. A Pontifical Mass is organized by a congregation of superior priests.
On the Feast day, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is visited by millions of devotees. The devotees of St. Francis Xavier remember the saint for his healing powers and feel blessed by offering him prayers.
The legendary greatness of the saint can be gauged from the fact that even after 400 years after his death, the dead body of the saint has not decayed. The corpse in its silver casket is opened for exposition once in every 10 years. The next year for exposition of the casket to the ardent worshippers is designated in the year 2024.
Procession of All Saints
Procession of All Saints is definitely the most popular festival of Goa. This is an example of the numerous Indian festivals that are celebrated in connection to religious beliefs. India is a land of diverse festivals and most of them have religious associations. There are other major festivals that are connected to the cycle of crop sowing and harvest. The religious festivals predominantly mark the celebration or the joy of the victory of good over evil.
Procession of All Saints festivals brings in fresh colour and joy in the life of the local people. This festival like all other religious festivals is associated with appeasing the all-powerful Almighty in the hope of ever-lasting peace and prosperity. The vivacious participation in the festival of Procession of All Saints comprise taking out processions, offering prayers, wearing new clothes, dancing, playing and listening to lively music along with eating and drinking. The festival is celebrated every year in the month of March and starts from the famous Church of St Andrew located in Old Goa.
Procession of All Saints is a festival that is celebrated in Goa next only to Rome. It is marked by a lavish procession in which thousands of devotees from all neighbouring villages gather around Goa Velha. In the procession, they carry life-size statues of thirty-one saints on their shoulders on the fifth Monday of Lent. The people move around merrily carrying the statues in a religious procession while more people watch in awe waiting at the sides of the procession routes. The procession routes are lined up with food stalls selling snacks, sweets and various other knick-knacks such as toys etc. It is an affair of complete merriment.
Goa Liberation Day
Goa Liberation Day festivities is more of historical and political significance for the people of Goa. This festival celebrates the spirit of freedom as it marks the day when Goa won freedom from Portuguese dominance. The Indian Navy had played a significant role in freeing Goa. People in general were happy as they got liberation from the exploitative and dominating laws of the Portuguese rule. The independence of Goa was even more significant as it marked the complete independence of India as a country post British rule. Goa was the only territory occupied by foreign power till so late.
The day of liberation is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm as the people get sparked by the spirit of independence. The streets of Goa see a lot of torch light processions that takes off from three various locations of Goa. The three processions approaching from three different regions ultimately meet at the Azad Maidan region. At the congregation point, the common people of the procession pay their tribute to the martyrs of the battle of independence. Cultural programs comprising light or classical music are also performed to celebrate the eventful occasion.
Sao Joao Festival
Sao Joao festival is especially popular in the Northern parts of Goa. This festival is another religious festival of Goa and is dedicated to the famous St. John the Baptist. The Saint has been widely revered for according to the Christian scriptures, he had leapt with joy at his mother’s womb, when the news of the birth of Christ was delivered to Elizabeth, St. John’s mother.
There is a typical and very entertaining ritual that is followed during the celebration of this festival. During Sao Joao festival the young Goanese men are seen rampantly jumping into the wells to retrieve the gifts that are thrown into the wells by the villagers. This festival is celebrated at the beginning of the monsoons. And it is fun to see the men all around belonging to all ages jumping into wells, ponds, streams and other familiar water sources in an effort to retrieve gifts. A local alcoholic brew known as Feni is consumed overtly during the festivities. This festival also sees colourful boat races that are usually organized in a village of North Goa, named Soilom of the Bardez province. In the Southern parts of Goa Sao Joao is a low or moderate key affair. But in the North especially in the areas of Siolim, Anjuna, Candolim, Calangute and Assagao celebrations are carried out in full-blown enthusiasm and merriment.
The main feast is the deep plunge by the youngsters into the village wells while singing the “San Joao” lyrics. The main attraction of the festival are the parades, also known as Sangodd, that are accompanied by singing Mando and various others religious hymns. The participants of the Sangodd or the processions are dressed in typical uniform clothing to be distinguish from other groups. Vivacious competitions are also arranged to add charm to the festivities. The fiercely adventurous spirits of the youngsters are on testing grounds as they compete to showcase their talents. Also the ones who have been married recently or have been blessed with a baby gather with a delectable spread of seasonal fruits such as jackfruits, mango, pineapples along with a bottle of local spirit of cashew feni to celebrate this special occasion.
The Sao Joao festival marks the beautiful amalgamation of colourful traditions and age-old beliefs. This festival gives another very good reason to the people to rejoice, dance, sing and celebrate.