The huge number of Goa festivals that are celebrated throughout the year provides a unique way for tourists to experience and witness authentic Indian culture at its best. To focus on Goa, the Goa culture as observed today is greatly influenced by Portuguese culture. From the dance, arts and crafts, cuisine, culture and festivals in Goa, any tourist can attest to how the general culture is unique and different compared to other Indian states. Because of this, the Goan image may come out as quite modern but the locals are exceptionally religious people and are very emphatic on this.
To avoid feeling like an outsider, it is important to learn the common culture in Goa before embarking on a trip there. While India is mostly conservative in nature, Goa entirely defies this culture. Goans are often described by the term “susegad”, which means a happy-go-lucky, laid-back attitude. It is a mandate to enjoy your life to the fullest, which perfectly depicts the ‘Eat, Drink and Be Merry’ approach towards life.
The locals prefer to be addressed as Goans. They are easygoing, helpful and friendly, which reflects the culture and festivals in Goa. Siesta is a very important part of life and is an afternoon break when locals retire to their homes, take a break and shut down shops. Usually taking place from 1–4pm, this is the hottest period of the day where people stay indoors to escape the scorching heat of the sun.
Goa festivals are a vital part of Goan life and culture. Every small town has its own little church or temple with a special annual fiesta or zatra. Many culture and festivals in Goa are in fact zatras of the family or local deity commemorated at the temple of the gods. Other Indian festivals such as Diwali, Holi and Dussehra are celebrated here but with an added Goan flavor. The Goan Hindu community celebrates Gudi Padwa, Diwali, Krishna Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturti, Ramnavmi, Rakshabandhan, Dussehra and Holi.
Brought by the Portuguese, Catholicism is quite strong in Goa, and this is apparent by the different Christian festivals celebrated here. A yearly four-day celebration, the Goa Carnival, is patterned after the renowned Carnival in Rio, Brazil, and is characterized by the colorful parade of dancing troupes and floats in every corner of the town along with the pulsating rhythm of drums, guitars, and folk songs.
Sao Joan or the Feast of St. John is celebrated every 24th of June by young people in Goa by them jumping into wells, ponds and streams to retrieve presents thrown in by the villagers. This festival takes place at the start of the monsoon season and is characterized by a vibrant spirit of color, tradition and merriment. Other Christian festival in Goa includes Christmas, Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Fest Dos Reis, and All Saints.
Apart from the religious culture and festivals in Goa, the local government has also made efforts to create a festivity promoting its tourist centers. The Goa Heritage Festival in Fontainhas aims to preserve and promote Fontainhas, a Latin quarter in Panjim City with rich Indo-Portuguese buildings meticulously preserved for over the last hundred years. Other festival attractions include the Monte Music Festival and Bonderam Festival in Divar Island, Goa.