Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Goan Shigmo

Shigmo is celebrated in  Goa with the usual Goan fervour that Goans are soshigmo festival proud of. It seems to be a festival which is celebrated in a transition period of Goan climate when the winter season in Goa ends and the vagaries of summer begin to take over with various creatures which had laid low in the winter emerging out of their hibernation to partake in the joy and merriment awaiting them with  colours, fun and frolic.

While the rest of India celebrates the festival of Holi in full spendour, with different groups and teams singing and dancing to folk songs and folk dances, with drums and cymbals to give the desired effects, Goa on the other hand celebrates its own distinguished brand of holi known as "shigmo"which is unique to Goa and Goans.

Some opine that the word Shigmo is a clear derivation which has evolved from Sugimha or Sugrisha which means a "pleasant summer time".

The advent of summer with the goodbyes to winter actually marks the festival of Shigmo as if the change of the season had brought in merriment and fun accompanied with it. So the Shigmo essentially is a heralding of happiness and merry, signifying the change of the winter season to the advent of the summer.In Goa, all d ifferences of caste and creed or status is set aside to celebrate all kinds of feasts and the same goes with the Shigmo, with people from all strata of society partaking in the celebrations wit a spirit of festivity. The folk dances , folk songs and the cultural beat is the backbone of the rich Goan cultural heritage which Goans are very proud of.

With a unique identity that the Shigmo has, it was also the hotbed of natural eco friendly methods of fun. The colours used in the shigmo festivities were very natural in the olden days and were made from dried wild flowers which never caused any problems or irritation to any revellers or passers by. Also the traditional colour, Gulal made of rice mixed with turmeric powder was also sprayed in Goa on the revellers partaking in the festival.

There were innovative natural ways to spray the coloshigmo coloursurs with the older generation using jet sprayers mad of bamboo sticks which were very effective while being eco friendly. Also the colours being safe and natural nobody  bothered about the ill effects of the  colours. In contrast, we see modern times where colours are normally included in chemicals which can be quite hazardous.

The festival of shigmo has always been one which has seen unique traditions specific to each village or area. While the festival is celebrated across the length and breadth of Goa very actively, unlike Carnival, it is not observed on a fixed day but rather on different days with each village or area having its own tradition of celebrating it. However there are certain disciplines followed in the celebrations which forms the essence of the festival.

The Shigmo is therefore a true Goan festival which has survived the times and can be traced centuries back showcasing the unique identity of Goa, Goan character and the rich Goan culture.

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