Three reasons to visit Goa during the off-season
Goa has always been a much sought after holiday destination for its sun, sea and sand. However, the monsoon season in Goa has a different charm all together. Contrary to popular belief, Goa is best enjoyed in monsoons. The off-season ensures less crowd, noise and traffic jams thereby allowing one to enjoy the lush greenery and the clean backwaters. The advent of monsoons sure sees a dip in the number of parties and water sport activities, but one experiences a side of Goa not known by many, without compromising on the fun quotient. Apart from the natural beauty, the monsoons also expose the cultural face of the state, with a number of traditional festivals taking place.
This unusual festival is celebrated on the 11th day of the Hindu lunar month of Aashadh (June-July) and it symbolises collection of various games that Lord Krishna played in his childhood. The festival is celebrated on a huge village ground in Marcel which is surrounded by a number of temples. During the rains, the ground is full puddles of water creating a slushy platform for the games.
The festival is preceded by 24 hours of continuous bhajan singing in the temple. The devotees then smear the oil on their bodies and enter the temple to offer a collective prayer for the community’s welfare. Post that, they come out of the temple to enter the mud field and the actual festival of Chikhalkala begins. The players, young and old begin throwing mud on each other and virtually push each other into it.Locals believe that one can get cured of skin diseases and even cough and cold if they play in the mud. The players then disperse to take a bath and return to temple to sing devotional songs. The festival of Chikhalkala concludes with distribution of prasad.
The main Bonderam festival is celebrated on the fourth Saturday of August. The festival includes colourful processions, floats, brass bands and mock battles. The feast of Bonderam is celebrated on the fourth Saturday of August every year at Divar Island, 12-km from Panjim. The name Bonderam revolves around the involvement of flags which in itself is an interesting story. Frequent disputes which occurred between two wards (section of the village) over property matters often led to bloody duels, and sometimes death. Subsequently, the Portuguese introduced a system of demarcation of boundaries with flags of various nations. The rival groups, however, knocked down the demarcation flags sometimes with stones. Today, in a parody of the past, this is commemorated with a “Fotash” fight (toy weapon of bamboo stem) and berries are used as missiles in a mock fight between rival groups to knock down an offending flag.
The Sao Joao festival is most pompously celebrated in Goa amongst the Catholic community. The festival is dedicated to St. John the Baptist and is celebrated on 24th June every year.
During the fest, local youths normally get drunk with feni and jump into wells ponds or creeks, yelling, ‘Viva re Sao Joao’. It is a colourful sight to see women, young girls and the local youth wear wreaths of flowers and leaves known as ‘copel’ on their heads. The youths also engage in different types of folk dances or Mandos which are popularly known as Sangodds. The Sangodds are uniquely decorated and members of that Sangodd wear a uniform dress to distinguish themselves from other groups. The young and old alike sing and dance to the beat of the ghumot and kansallem. San Joao, like any other Goan feast, has that captivating spirit of merriment, colour and tradition. So if you are looking for fun, frolic and a wet-carnival like atmosphere then Goa is definitely the best place to be.