Carnival of colours, huge processions, beautiful folk dances, drums and music – all these lasting for nearly a fortnight! This elaborate festival of spring, also known as Shigmo festival or Shigmotsav, is celebrated in Goa with dazzling grandeur.

Shigmo Festival Goa - Raising a Flag

This photo, “Raising a Flag” @Flickr from Abhisek Sarda
made available under an Attribution license

Shigmo is similar to the Holi festival. It is one of the popular Hindu festivals of Goa and is a major social event where all the Goans participate enthusiastically irrespective of their roots.

The gala celebration usually begins in and around March every year and lasts for 15 days. Since the festival is linked to the Hindu lunar calendar, the dates vary every year. This year Shigmo is celebrated from 28th March to 10th April 2013.

Usually from the starting day, people will abstain from non-vegetarian food and intoxicants. This strict observation is called ‘Naman’.

From the 11th moon day to the 15th moon day, in various villages, several people gather in groups, to rejoice in the festive mood, buy new dresses, arrange flags and decorat pillars called “Dwajas” in their homes. In temple courtyards artists give performances of stories of mythology, sing folk songs and dance to the beat of the drums called ‘Dols’. They play with coloured powders and water (as in Holi) with friends and relatives. In cities also the same kind of festivity is observed.

Shigmo Festival Goa - Drama and Events

This photo, “Demonic Consultations” @Flickr from Abhisek Sarda
made available under an Attribution license

The main attraction of Shigmo is the huge processions conducted during last days of the festival and almost every Goan participates with fervour in those parades.

Processions are held with people throwing a red powder called ‘gulal’ and with flowers, flutes, drums, special dances like horse dance, artists in costumes of deities, artists enacting mythological events of Hinduism, colourful costumes, masks, jewels, crafts, etc. People march to the beat of traditional Goan drums, some dance with exquisite umbrellas, some others dress up as deities and several others just walk along the parade.

The grand finale is extraordinary with huge floats of big artificial figures of important deities. People are chosen and honoured for best performances in the processions and several prizes are given for best float decorators.
It is an opportunity for rural folk dancers, village artisans and people who make handicrafts to showcase their talent and make money. The festival supports livelihood of many people. Hence the Goan government also encourages the processions and promotes ‘Shigmotsav’. Nowadays, this festival celebration is organized in different cities particularly to attract tourists.

If you are planning to visit Goa this time around, Shigmotsav is an event that one must not miss.