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"Culture of Goa is infused with Portuguese influence. What Goa's music and dance, arts and crafts, cuisine and festivals today are, have evolved out of a shared past . The image of Goa might come across as a very modern state but Goans are very religious people and very particular about it also."
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Goa - a state that was the epicentre of Portuguese occupation in the Asian region. Portuguese culture is today so imbibed in the lives of Goans that it's difficult to imagine Goa without its Portuguese connection. The result of four and half centuries of rule is today what Goa is, a unique, rich blend of western and eastern culture. This unique blend apparent every where, from art and architecture to food and music, is the trademark of Goa.

While in Goa you will see different shades. While on beach, Goa appears to be a very happening place where people are very modern. But don't just go by that. Goa has a very religious side to it also. Be it the Catholics or the Hindus or the Muslims, people of Goa are deeply connected to their religions.

Before Portuguese took over Goa, during the four centuries they were here, and after they left, all these phases in the history of Goa have had a lasting influence. As a result it would be most appropriate to say that Goa's culture has evolved out of its past and present.

The People

Goans, that's how people of Goa love to address themselves. In contrast to the prevalent traditionalism in the rest of India, flamboyance marks the character of Goans. They are friendly, full of life people and nothings seems to dampen their spirits. The holiday spirit of Goa reflects in their attitude. They are easy going people and don't believe in getting into rat race. Most Goans practice 'siesta' i.e. pull down the shutters from 1 to 4 pm and retire in the afternoon. Long isolation due to Portuguese occupation and Sahyadris range on land has led to this distinct identity of Goans.

In Goa, 65% population is Hindus, 30 percent Christians and rest are Muslims and others, but the culture of Goa is a far distinct identity from any of these religions. Proud of their land, they consider themselves first Goans and then Hindus or Christians. Culture unites them and they respect their religion as well as that of others. Religious fundamentalism is something unknown to Goans. You can feel this unique religious harmony at quite a few places of religion such as Damodar temple at Sanguem, the Church of Our Lady of Miracles in Mapusa, the Shantadurga temple at Fatorpa where both Hindus and Christians offer their prayers. They even participate with great enthusiasm in each other's fairs and festivals.

Dance And Music

Goans are a talented lot when it comes to music and dance. They don't leave an occasion to pull a string or shake a leg. Music is in the blood of Goans since time immemorial, in almost every family you would find a pianist or a guitarist. Being a part of the culture, music of Goa is a blend of east and west. While the rural areas still stick to the traditional forms of music, the urban areas have shifted to a more modern version. You would get every music from Portuguese to Techno and rave, but what has caught Goa these days is the Goa Trance. Goa Trance is a vibrant and psychedelic dance music that is best enjoyed on the dance drug LSD and is a powerful and kaleidoscopic tapestry of sound. Of late Goa Trance has also made an impact in the international music circles. The music is so much in demand in parties that they are now called the trance parties.

Goa's dance in itself is a rich cultural art form. Passed from one generation to another, it has preserved well the past of Goa along with evolving new dance forms from the Portuguese influence. The most popular of local dance forms here are Fugdi and Dhalo performed by women only. Kunbi is a rustic tribal dance cum song while Dekni performed by women is a blend of eastern and western rhythms. Some dance forms are inherent to certain festivals when they are performed for not just pleasure but as a gesture of devotion. Such as Dhangar is performed during Navratras or the Lamp dance where women dance with lamps on their heads during the Shigmo festival. Morulem is also performed during Shigmo by the backward community. Zagor, though is not a dance form but is very popular among the villagers. It's a cultural activity where in Gawda community goes to different villages to perform folk plays.

Goa Cuisine

The Goan cuisine is not just fish and feni, its much more. While you are in Goa there are umpteen number of options to tickle your taste buds and the fantastic thing about it is that it's a unison of the Portuguese dishes and Indian spices. A meeting of Konkani, Portuguese and Bahamani Nawabi traditions produced the Goan cuisine that is simple and spicy, aromatic and pungent.

Goa Art & Craft

Goa, has been a land of blended cultures and meeting point of two civilizations. This unison has translated into art and crafts of Goa where the crafts of Portuguese nuns met with patterns, often Indian embroidery, and together they presented to the world a tradition of unique items.

Since fifteenth century crochet, bamboo and pottery have been employed to churn out utility items but over a period of time the craft has transcended to utility cum decorative purpose. Government has done its bit to preserve it by opening training centres as well as emporiums where you can buy genuine handicrafts. Not just that, the Goa craft has also won critical acclaim from 'visible everywhere' sea shells work. Even in today's techno driven world, these hand made souvenirs look immensely inviting on the counters of shops.

Fairs and Festivals

Religion is very close to the hearts of the Goans, rather their lives revolve around their gods and places of worship. Though Goa is a land of many religions but people of Goa, irrespective of their religions, mingle freely and participate in each other's merriment. No month passes without a fair or festival in Goa, every season is marked by fairs and festivals. Like rest of the India most Hindu, Christian and other religious festivals are celebrated here but then with Goan touch. Jatras (feasts) are a special feature of the Goan celebration where a palakhi or palanquin procession is carried out and thousands of people participate in it. Apart from these, there are other festivals which are exclusive to Goans. Some of these are the five day Shigmo festival, Kalas utsav, Novidade, Jatra of Shri Shanta Durga, Bonderam festival and the Goa Carnival. Locales are involved in all the festivals but the festivals that attract tourists as well, are Christmas and New Year. The celebrations for these occassions are something special and are a must experience.

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