Endless stretches of silver sands, blue waters, clear blue sky mirroring the sea below, brilliant green fields lush with the paddy crops, acres and acres of coconut plantations swaying gently in the wind, beautiful white churches and Portuguese style mansions standing out against the startlingly red soil, long nights spent over brewed feni, longer days of sun, sand and sea. All these contribute to the lethargy that is unique to Goa.
Goa is one of the youngest states of the Indian Union, having attained statehood after 451 years of colonial rule and 26 years as Union territory. Goa exports large amounts of coconut, spices, fruits, manganese, iron, fish and salt. Rice is a major crop though cashewnuts, pulses and betel (areca nut) are also produced in abundance.
Fairs, festivals and celebrations
The best part of the celebrations is that they are enjoyed without any caste or religion barriers. The biggest celebrations are at Panjim and Margao. Besides the traditional festivals there are also village feasts - each village in Goa has a patron saint that has his/her own feast day - which are quaint, colourful and charming local events.
During Christmas and carnival times Goa is teemed with visitors from far and near who throng to the state to revel in the fun, games and exotic food. The streets are filled with the merry makers when floats depicting the various aspects of Goan life are driven through the streets accompanied by people in colourful clothes and brilliantly hued flowers.
Mardi Gras Carnival, held for three days in February or early March just before the Lent, it is a feast celebrated since the 18th century full of eating-drinking-merry-making characterised by the huge parades accompanied with bands, floats and dances. Around the month of March, the full-moon festival of Holi goes by the name of Shigmo and is celebrated with big parades with drums and dance groups competing with huge floats.
A Goan wedding is a splendoured affair. Preparations start months in advance when besides preparing an elaborate trousseau relatives and neighbours gather at the bride’s house to help make papads, pickle and other preserves that will not only be served at the wedding feast but also sent to the bridegroom’s home. The wedding ceremony comprises of a number of rituals and the end of which the guests and the hosts partake of a sumptuous meal the menu of which is more or less fixed. It comprises of Lonche (pickle), Papad, Coconut Chutney, Koshimbir, Muga gathi (a gravied dish of whole green gram), Batata bhaji, bhajee (vegetable fritters), Panchamrut (a sweet sour chutney of coconut and dry fruits), Varan bhaat, Masale bhaat, Jalebi, Shrikhand and finally rounded off with Tival (kokum extract tempered with mustard, asafoetida and curry leaves).