The lull of post-carnival Lent in Goa will be broken by the Hindu spring festival, which, like the carnival, is marked by street parades, colour and fanfare and the ring of traditional instruments. The 14-day Shigmo got under way on Holi, March 27.
Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar said close to Rs.1.75 crore has been invested to organise this year’s celebrations, as part of the state government’s effort to promote Goa as a cultural tourism destination.
“We want to ensure that Goa’s traditions and culture are brought out from villages and showcased to tourists who come here. Our job is to bring to the fore the real Goa with Shigmo celebrations,” Parulekar told IANS.
Parulekar said the festival would attract 100,000 tourists to the state.
The Goa Carnival and Shigmo share several common practices like parades of floats where “khells” (plays) are depicted.
“Khell was originally a Shigmo custom. It was enacted on the ground itself in pre-Portuguese days. The Portugal-inspired carnival later started enacting these plays on float parades,” said renowned theatre artiste and former speaker of Goa assembly Tomazinho Cardozo.
“The traditional khell traces its origins to the classical Yakshagana dance of Karnataka and is based on old Hindu tales with a Sutradhar or narrator and a jester called a Kodangi,” he added.
The Shigmo procession begins with brass bands reminiscent of the Maratha conquerors, followed by a series of Kunbi (an indigenous Goan tribe) folk dances performed by women bedecked with gold and wearing brightly coloured sarees.
“Long before Christianity arrived, Hinduism was the major religion practised by Goa’s people. Shigmo is a proof that Goans were fun-loving people much before the arrival of the Portuguese.
“Besides a unique form of entertainment, Shigmo is also a cultural exhibition of Goa’s history from time immemorial,” according to historian Anil Naik.
Men march with tall and colourfully draped wooden poles to the beat of drums, while others dance with decorated umbrellas. Both men and women in elaborate costumes, representing various deities, can also be seen during Shigmo parades, which are held in all major towns in the state.
The procession culminates in a march of illuminated floats, atop which larger than life mechanical figures represent important deities and some even re-enact historic and mythological feats.
And this is just the kind of culturally rich and vibrant fare that the state’s Shigmotsava committee, which organises the festival, wants to promote.
“Goa is so rich in culture. Our effort is to ensure that through Shigmo, the village culture of Goa, is there for everyone to see,” said Srinivas Dempo, who heads the Panaji Shigmotsava Committee.