If you manage to tear yourself away from a fruity cocktail at a shack on the beach, you might find yourself a part of a lesser known but equally exciting, typically Goan experience—Shigmotsav. Shigmotsav is a Konkan spring festival that is comparable to the more familiar Holi and is enthusiastically celebrated by Konkani people in Goa.
What is Shigmotsav?
Shigmotsav heralds the coming of spring and the month of Phalgun (March), an Indian lunar month. Historically, the festival is also said to celebrate the return of valiant warriors from far off places. These warriors had left their homes and lands to fight invaders at the end of Dussehra and are given a hero’s welcome with all the pomp and show that is called upon to mark such a momentous occasion.
Shigmotsav is celebrated with great enthusiasm in villages across Goa. Public parades take over the streets, with colourful flags signalling the arrival of festivities and lifelike floats depicting stories and mythologies connected to the festival. People are encouraged by the beating of large drums to join traditional dancers who whirl about to high energy folk songs, immediately transforming an age-old tradition into a public celebration.
A Fortnight of Song, Dance and Eye Popping Floats
Shigmotsav is celebrated over fourteen days, starting with Dhakto Shigmo or “small Shigmo”, which was originally celebrated by inhabitants of areas that had been under Portuguese rule since the sixteenth century. These areas are often called the Old Colonies and celebrate Dhakto Shigmo for the five days preceding the full moon of Phalguna. Dhakto Shigmo is centred around folk songs and folk dances of the Konkani people, including those like the lamp dance, the talgadi, the hampet, and the gopha.
Vadhlo Shigmo follows this modest celebration, starting on the day of the full moon and lasting for the next five days. Vadhlo Shigmo or “big Shigmo” is often viewed as the main celebration of this festival. While Dhakto Shigmo is usual celebrated by rural inhabitants, farmers, labourers and other members of the working class, Vadhlo Shigmo happens on a much larger scale. People from across the state celebrate Vadhlo Shigmo with gusto – animated dancers in eye catching traditional clothing beat drums, twirl umbrellas, dance in formation, and create an atmosphere of great festivity.
Local village parades are an enjoyable experience and provide a glimpse into the traditional Konkani Goan life. It gives the onlookers a perspective into the real Goa—beyond the commercialised party spots and overcrowded beaches.
Where to Experience an authentic Shigmotsav
The government of Goa has been proactively supporting this traditional festival over the last few years. Under its patronage, more street parades and processions have been organised across the state. The street parade in Panjim would likely be the biggest one in the state—with all the fanfare a celebration at the state’s capital deserves. But smaller celebrations in Mapusa, Margao, Vasco and Ponda are equally good options to witness this unique and colourful celebration.
Shigmotsav reveals a hidden side of Goa that not many tourists would be familiar with, but it reflects the traditions of its people. Discover the real Goa through the splendor of this spirited celebration.