The colour may have settled in Mumbai but it is Holi time in the land of sand, sea, surf and sorpotel as Goa's unique Shigmo festival takes off. Lesser known than the famous carnival, this celebration of the state's culture needs a major boost
Shigmotsav, Goa’s spring festival, which started on Wednesday, will celebrate Goan ethnicity and mythology for two weeks with parades, floats and music and dance, across 14 cities in the state.
Dilip Parulekar, Minister for Tourism for Goa, said, “Our focus is on festival and cultural tourism and Shigmo is definitely very high on our priority list.” The parades will have men and women dressed in ethnic costumes dancing to traditional songs. Their dances will be to the tune of traditional Goan drums as they move along the route.
Shrinivas Dempo, chairman of Panjim Shigmotsav Samiti (PSS), added that the festival fulfills the aim of the committee to preserve and promote Goan art and culture. Sandeep Naik, secretary, PSS, explained that every city has its own Shigmotsav samiti that plans a day-long parade with floats and folk music (see box for schedule).
The Samitis are funded in part by the government and in part by private sponsors and donors. “We (the Panjim Shigmotsav Samiti) are celebrating our silver jubilee so we have a weeklong celebration that began on March 25 and ends on March 31. Tomorrow, we will have floats and parades in Panjim.”
Shigmotsav has been the official state festival for two decades, but hardly anyone outside the state will be able to tell you that. When it comes to advertising and publicity, Shigmotsav lags far behind the Goa carnival. Rued Naik, “Major TV channels come on their own to Goa for the carnival, but not for the Shigmotsav. We are taking up the matter with the tourism department.
We hope to advertise on leading national TV channels. It is picking up but it will take two-three years.” The Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) is paying special attention to Shigmotsav this year and expects around one lakh tourists to come for the festival. This year, they have gone beyond tradional advertising methods and used social media to spread the word.
Naik added that one really cannot compare the carnival with the Shigmotsav. “You cannot compare their floats and our floats. They have limited floats. There is dancing and liquor and the festival is westernised. The floats of the Shigmotsav are about Indian mythology. We’ll see minimum 50 floats participating in the parade and about 100 groups of folk dancers and musicians. The parade route is blocked for vehicular traffic.”
One can see floats in all the cities on the schedule on the designated date, but not all the floats that come to Panjim visit the other cities, said Naik. “Panjim is the preferred destination for floats because of the infrastructure. If a tourist wants to travel to a different city to see the floats, then they can take the taxi or a bus. There is no meter system for taxis in Goa – it is a fixed rate.
Buses are cheaper but the service is poor at night. After the parade is over (usually by 10 pm as that is the deadline set by the Supreme Court), you might not get a bus back to your destination. Hiring a taxi or a car is the best option.”
In the past years, the response from Mumbaikars has been very encouraging, said Naik. “Goa has lots of folk culture. Our floats show Indian culture. People come from Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra enjoy because there are similarities in Maharashtra and Goa tradition and culture.”
Schedule for Shigmo Float Parade 2013
Here’s when and where the parades will take place:
March 30: Panjim
March 31: Mapusa
April 1: Vasco
April 2: Bicholim
April 3: Sanquelim
April 4: Valpoi
April 5: Curchorem
April 6: Sanguem
April 7: Margao
April 8: Quepem
April 9: Cuncolim
April 10: Canacona