Thursday, March 12, 2009

Shigmotsav - Goa's brand of holi

Holi a pan-India festival of our country India, which is a riotous celebration of colours has begun to dissolve state boundaries and  although it was prominently celebrated in Northern India, it has successfully made inroads inside Goa.

However while urban Goa may have finally fallen for the charm of Holi being the universal Indian festival of colours, the Goan brand of Holi continues to reverberate and grow stronger every passing year with the sound of drums echoing in villages and wards of Goa.

While Holi is a day long celebration, Shigmo or Shigmotsav in Goa spans for atleast a fortnight and is considered as one of the prominent festivals of the Goan Hindu community.shigmo revellers in Goa

In some places in Goa, Shigmo is celebrated by the rural masses in the close religious association of religious rites with the festival accompanying the fanfare of drumbeats and imitations of mythological characters.

While some consider it as a harvest festival. others consider Shigmo as a festival bidding adieu to winter and welcoming the onset of summer on Goa. Spelling fun and frolic, the Shigmo festival has its unique identity in Goa and is celebrated on the full moon day in the Phalguna month( March), the last month of the Hindu calendar.

On the fifth day of the festival, is the Rang Panchami day- the Holi. Historically only red and blue colours were known to be thrown at each other in Goa on this day. However, now with the advent of influences from the Indian version of Holi, other colours have also made their way.

Goa's traditionally rich culture of the ancient times is known to be best showcased in this festival and the dance forms such as romtamell and ghodde modnni are in full flow. Places such as Quepem in the south and Sattari in the north are traditionally known to be the toppers in the list of shigmo celebrations with the maximum revellers in these areas.shigmo drum beats

In some communities like the Velips of Canacona, the Shigmotsav festival starts with "naman" when the villagers offer a complete obeisance from the 9th moon day to the full moon day and abstain from any kind of non vegetarian food or intoxicating drinks. On the 11th day upto the 15th moon day the villagers dress themselves in colourful clothes and celebrate different hues of spring by displaying multicoloured cloths, torans, flags and red diwjas.

Dancers of all age groups march from door to door  with Dol and tasha or drums with people offering them arthi and money to these dancers and the dancers later sing a song for the donor of the house.

The villagers normally play folk forms like tonyamel, chaurang, Aarati, Fugdi, Ghode Moddni, Goff dance, Mussal khel and romel dance which people identify easily.

These rustic rituals are therefore embedded very deeply in the Velip tribe of villages in Goa and the dancers are often accorded a huge reception  by the villagers.

The float parades is another facet of the Shigmotsav festival when the mythological floats take centre stage for the rest of Goa to witness the various depiction of characters and living styles etc.

So as Goans sprinkle colours and revel in the Shigmotsav celebrations, it has to be remembered that it is the Goan version of a much larger scaled celebration against the pan-Indian celebration of Holi.

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