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Dances of Goa

The state of Goa has unique culture and heritage, in which dances play an important role. Folk dances of Goa are preserved, practiced and nurtured through many dynasties. Portuguese influence is clearly evident in many of the Goan dances, whereas many of the dances are also inspired by the Hindu traditions. Bhandad and Corredinho are the traditional folk dances of Goa, which bear strong Portuguese influences; similarly Dashavatara is a dance rooted in ancient Indian traditions.

Dashavatara means the ten incarnations of Vishnu. In this dance form, actors represent Lord Brahma, Goddess Saraswati and the demon Shankhasur. The introduction with songs and dance performance will be for two hours and then the proper drama begins. Stories from the epics and mythology are part of this drama. It may continue up to sunrise. Men and women both participate in this drama.

Some of the other famous folk dances of Goa are Goff, Kunbi, Mussal, Dhalo, Fugdi, Lamp dance and Dekni dances. Goff dance is performed at the time of the Shigmo festival, in the month of March. It is used to express the joy after the harvest. Every dancer has to hold a colourful cord hanging at the center of point, which is called 'Mand.' They start dancing with the others and ultimately a beautiful and colorful intricate braid is formed at the end of the first movement. With the music, dancers reverse and repeat the pattern so skillfully that the braid gets unraveled and at the end of the second movement, all the cords are loose and separated once again. The songs which accompany the dances are dedicated to Lord Krishna.

The earliest known inhabitants of Goa are Kunbis. This is a strong tribal community of Salcete taluka. Many of them are now Christians but still they have kept the most ancient pre-Portuguese folk traditions of the land. One of them is the Kunbi dance. The Kunbi women wear very simple but traditional clothes while performing the dance. Their dance is fast and elegant and it touches the realm of an ethnic art form. Kunbi dance is a social dance and doesn't have any religious character.

During the Shigmo festival, lamp dance is performed, using the brass lamps. Balancing the brass lamps with burning wicks on the head and hands is the specialty of this dance form. Slow dancing movement with the lamp with self discipline and exquisite footwork, matching the rhythms of the traditional folk songs makes the dance very eye catching. Southern and Central Goa is famous for this type of dance.

Mussal dance is performed by Kshtriays to celebrate the victory of Harihar over the Cholas in the 14th century. Mussals or pestles are held and brandished by every performer during the victory dance. It was the favourite war instrument with the mythical Yadavas. This dance has its origins centuries ago. Though converted to Christianity, many people from this community have retained this dance form.

Shigmo festival is also accompanied by thanks-giving ceremonial dance-cum-procession. This colourful and raucous dance is called Romat in the northern Goa and Mell in the central part of Goa. Dancers, comprising different sections of village population, march with ceremonial umbrellas and banners to the temple of the presiding deity or to the house of the landlord of the village. Dance is accompanied by the beats of huge 'dhols' and 'tashas.'

And of course, without witnessing the bewitching beauty of Dekhni dance, your visit to Goa would not have a holistic feel.

Last Updated On: 2011/07/01

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