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  Events and Festivals
Festivals of Goa
This is Goa’s answer to Holi, which is a festival of colour. Huge dance troupes perform intricate movements of folk dances on the road all through the length of the parade. Many troupes number more than 100 and they dance tirelessly, as they have been doing for centuries.
Holi is the festival of colors when people of all ages playfully drench each other with coloured water. The vibrant use of colours symbolises the advent of a colourful and prosperous spring season.
Carnival is the annual four-day celebration which begins on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday, heralding a 40-day Lent period of penance and abstinence before Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus. The four-day Carnival has become world famous in Rio, Brazil. The Goa Carnival, led by King Momo, has its own pulsating rhythms of guitars, folk songs and drumbeats accompanying a colourful parade of floats and dancing troupes in all the major towns.
Feast of St Francis Xavier
The major Feast of St Francis Xavier is held on the 3 rd of December at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa. St Francis Xavier, the great Jesuit missionary, is the patron saint of Goa and attracts devotees from all over the world. His body has been preserved for centuries and lies in an exquisite silver casket at the Basilica and is displayed every ten years during the Exposition.. However, the feast is celebrated every year, drawing thousands of devotees from across India in quest of the saint’s blessings and healing powers.
For the devout, the celebrations begin on Christmas Eve and before. Carols are sung and various churches organize Midnight Mas. The service on Christmas Day is widely attended and people assemble in their homes for family get-togethers. In Goa, Christmas is celebrated in the European way with the celebrations revolving around the family. But it has strands woven in that go to make it a Goan one. A week or 10 days before Christmas, a family or village group with one among them dressed as Santa go carol singing with a box to raise funds for the poor. Beautiful stars symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem decorate Christian homes all over the State.
Sao Joao
The feast of St John the Baptist on June 24th is celebrated by young men all over Goa by jumping into wells to retrieve gifts thrown in by villagers.The festival takes place at the beginning of the monsoon season in Goa with people of all ages jumping into wells, streams and ponds. This generally after getting into the spirit of things by imbibing Goa’s famous liquor feni. San Joao, like any other Goan feast, has that captivating spirit of merriment, colour and tradition.
Goa Heritage Festival at Fontainhas
This festival is a combined effort of the Goa Heritage Action Group, the Corporation of the City of Panaji and the Department of Tourism, Government of Goa. The festival aims to preserve and promote the Fontainhas area of Goa. Fontainhas is the Latin quarter of Panjim city with pretty Indo-Portuguese homes lovingly cared for over the last hundred years or more. The roads are neatly laid out and the area is dominated by the St Sebastian Chapel. The festival is marked by performances by various artists on stages set up in open areas, as well as displays of work of art by local artisans who use the pavements and heritage homes as their galleries. The festival in short is not only meant to celebrate the cultural heritage of the state, it inculcates awareness and appreciation of their unique culture in the hearts of Goans and impresses the need to conserve it for the benefit of future generations.
Monte Music Festival
This music festival, started just few years ago, celebrates the coming together of western and Indian classical music. The venue for the festival is the centuries old newly renovated chapel on the hill at Old Goa, the Capela da Nossa Senhora do Monte (Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount). This chapel perched at the very top of a hill in Old Goa is a must-see place during the festival, where one can enjoy a truly spectacular panoramic view of large areas of North Goa. Sread over four days, this festival provides a platform to a number of artists--local, national and international to display their talents before an appreciative audience. There are buses that take you up the steep slope to the venue from the Mahatma Gandhi circle at Old Goa.
Shivratri (February/March)
Shivaratri is celebrated on the 6th night of the dark Phalgun (February or March) every year. On the auspicious day, devotees observe fast and keep vigil all night. Mahashivaratri marks the night when Lord Shiva performed the 'Tandava'. It is also believed that on this day Lord Shiva was married to Parvati Ma. On this day Shiva devotees observe fast and offer fruits, flowers and bel leaves on Shiva Linga.
Basant Panchami (January/February)
Vasant Panchami, also spelt as Basant Panchami, or Saraswati Puja is a festival that represents the arrival of Vasant Ritu (Spring Season). On this day, Mata Saraswati is worshipped. It is celebrated on the fifth day of the month Magh (Magha masa Shukla Panchami). Vasanta Panchami is also called as ‘Shree Panchami’ or ‘Saraswati Panchami’.
Ramnavami (March/April)
Ram Navami is a festival that celebrates the birth of Lord Rama, the son of King Dasharath. It was a joyous occasion in Ayodhya all those centuries ago when King Dasharath's heir was finally born. It was like a dream come true for the king as the lack of an heir had troubled him sorely for many years.
Gokul Ashtami (September)
Janmashtami is the joyful celebration of Lord Krishna's birth. Major celebrations of Krishna Janmashtami takes place at midnight as Krishna is said to have made his divine appearance in that hour. Fasting, bhajans, pujas and many other rituals mark Janmashtami celebrations in India.
Ganesh Chaturthi (September)
Ganesh Chaturthi is an important festival on the Hindu calendar which is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. Ganesha as per Hindu mythology is considered to be the 'vigana harta' (remover of obstacles) for his many devotees. Ganesh Chaturthi festival gives an opportunity to the innumerous devotees of Lord Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati to offer prayers to their deity and seek his blessings.
Dusshera (October)
Dussehra falling on the last day of Navaratri or Durga puja arrives in the month of October. Dussehra literally means that which takes away ten sins. This Hindu festival is celebrated all over India to mark the defeat of Ravana by Lord Rama. Dussehra symbolises the triumph of good over evil. The 'Ramlila' - an enactment of the life of Lord Rama, is held during the nine days preceding Dussehra. On the tenth day, larger than life effigies of Ravana, his son and brother - Meghnath and Kumbhakarna, are set alight.
Diwali (November)
Deepavali or Diwali is the major Indian occasion which is celebrated whole heartedly in Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism. It is also called 'Festival of Lights' as people illuminate candles, diyas on this day and celebrate the victory of good over wicked powers. The day is celebrated in throughout the world, where in nepal it is called Tihar and Swanti. It falls in the months of October or November. In North India, the day marks the homecoming of Lord Ram to his kingdom Ayodhya after the 14 years of exile. People of his kingdom celebrated his home return by lightning thousands of diyas, therefore the day has been named as 'Deepavali', which is again shortened as 'Diwali'.
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