Kalas Utsav is held in the months of February-March (“Phalgun Mahina” according to the Hindu calendar) every alternate year at the Sri Morjaee Temple in Morjim village. The festival starts at the onset of the Phalgun Shuddha Panchami with celebrations continuing for almost a month. Revelry is at its prime during the main seven days during which many socio-cultural events take place attended by tourists coming from Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Bonderam Festival is celebrated on the fourth Saturday of August every at the Divar island located nearby Panjim. The festival is based on an interesting legend where the Portuguese had tried to create peace between warring groups by demarcating their lands with flags. As a remembrance, the people of Divar celebrate the festival by hosting a mock "Fotash" flight of bamboo stems and berries. There is music and enjoyment in the air and the whole of Old Goa joins in the merriment.
Novidade Festival has rejoiced in the months of August-September (“Bhadrapada Mahina” according to the Hindu calendar). The festival marks the start of the harvesting season where both Hindus and Christians take part in the festivities by offering their first crop to the church. Communities sing and enjoy together creating a carnival-like atmosphere, which is completed with a dazzling display of fireworks.
Goa Carnival is one of the major triumph points of Goan heritage and tourism introduced by the Portuguese who ruled the state for over 500 years. The streets of Goa brim with decorative streamers, balloons, and lavishly dressed contestants with ornate masks. Tapping of the feet with sweet sounds of music is a must for every Goan as he takes part in the Carnival.
The festivity lasting for three days starts with King Momo taking over the state and initiating the celebrations. Goan Christians gorge on various kinds of meat and delicacies full-heartedly as the carnival is held just before the start of Lent when meat is strictly not to be devoured. Goan Carnival’s high point is its cultural amalgamation where even Hindu traditions are absorbed in the festivities.
Feast of Three Kings
The Feast of Three Kings is nine-day merriment where Christians, as well as Hindus, join in to offer prayer to the Lady of Mount. The Lady of Mount is considered sacred as she is supposed to bless married women to bear children and fulfil all wishes made at her chapel. Starting nine days before Epiphany on the 6th of January, there is continuous merrymaking wherein on the last day three little boys aged between 8-10 are selected to enact the role of Three Kings in the Feast of Magi. These boys chosen from the villages of Quelim, Cansaulim and Arrosim offer their wealth to the Lady of Mount. Dressed in colourful clothes and led by the beating of drums these boys carry on the tradition until the next kings are announced. There is also a huge fair held where one can buy anything ranging from furniture, toys, and clothes to trinkets.
Good Friday or Easter marks the resurrection of Jesus and this day marks great importance for Christians for its religious sanctity. A huge feast is held on Thursday to represent the last supper of Jesus and celebrations continue until Sunday.
In Goa, churches are beautifully decorated with processions attracting people from all over the state. Special mention to the Panjim Church of Mary Immaculate Conception, where people gather to listen to the mass and partake in the Way of Cross. Afternoon sermons are held in both Konkani and English and afterwards, a proceeding with a wooden cross displaying the crucification of Jesus is taken along the streets of Panjim.
Sao Joao Festival
The Sao Joao Festival is celebrated on the 24th of June and is devoted to the feast of St. John the Baptist. Rains generally arrive in Goa by this time, and it is the time to rejoice. People drink merrily and jump into the wells shouting ‘Viva re Sao Joao’. Those who wish to become mothers offer fruits, flowers, & vegetables to the wells, while newlywed sons-in-law are invited by their mother-laws for a feast.
Shigmotsav or Shigmo festival in Goa takes place during Phalgun month of the Hindu calendar, which announces the onset of spring and end of winter. Various festivities and events can be experienced around Goa that concentrates mainly on farmers’ lives. Farmers pray from the 9th moon day till the full moon day after which they dance in colourful clothes holding torans and flags until the 15th day. The event is mainly feted in the four prominent Hindu populated cities of Goa: Panaji, Margao, Mapusa and Vasco.
St. Francis Day / Feast of St. Francis Xavier
St. Francis Day is held every year on December 3 to honour the death of the patron Saint of Goa – St. Francis Xavier. Assortments of ceremonies are prearranged across Goa among which the famous one is the Feast of St. Francis Xavier. Until 1994, every 10 years a procession was carried out in which the casket that enshrined the body of St. Francis Xavier, was displayed to the public. Devotees from all over India and the world arrive in Goa to worship the Saint and attend the feast where a high-ranking clergy performs Pontifical Mass. Wax models of body parts that need curing are offered to the saint who was believed to have great healing powers.
Food & Cultural Festival Of Goa
Sprawling across a period of 5 days, the Food & Cultural Festival of Goa is the place to be if the true taste of Goan food is to be savoured. Everyone from homemakers, restaurateurs to high-profile chefs of 5-star hotels take part in the festival displaying their culinary art at various beaches in Goa. Fresh produce from the sea is tossed into an array of tantalizing preparations blending both Portuguese and local Konkani cuisine. A number of other cultural events are amalgamated with the food festival, thus creating an aura of joy and merrymaking.
Feast of Our Lady of Rosary
Also known as, Navelim Feast, the celebration is held at a quaint little old town of Navelim just outside Margoa in the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary. An annual event, the feast begins on the third Wednesday in November with traditional processions and novenas. A family is selected to arrange the feast that then paints the church and beautifies it with decorative lights. Even the whole town sparkles up with colourful lights during the feast. Masses are arranged at the Holy Rosary School playground and in the evening, there is a luminous exhibit of fireworks.
Christmas / Midnight Masses
With a major Goan population made up of Christians, Christmas in Goa is celebrated in a big way. Merrymaking, prayers, and feasts all form a part of the festivities that start at the beginning of the December month itself.
Held in honour of the birth of Jesus Christ, revelry is joined in by people belonging to all religion, caste, and creed. On a personal level, each house brings in a Christmas tree and decorates it. Relatives and neighbours join in the happiness with large together held to mark the happiness. On Christmas eve, all Goans get dressed up in their loveliest clothes for the Midnight mass at the Church. Shops are decked up with decorations and Santa Claus can be seen distributing gifts on the streets. There is joy and laughter in every nook & corner as Christmas parties are in full swing.
Tripurari Poornima (Boat Festival)
Every November on Tripuri Poornima, a religious boat festival is held at Sanquelim in Goa whose origins lie in a mythological legend. Traditional diyas made up of earthenware and placed inside ‘dronas’ are sailed down the River Valvanti making way for a beautiful and illuminated sight. This day is also known as Dev Diwali. Know days this diyas have paved the way for cardboard/thermacol boats with electric lamps in various designs. Every year a competition is arranged to decide who makes the best boats and the winner is given a special prize. Later on, cultural programmes are arranged where plays are hosted to enact the mythological legend on which the festival is based.