Shigmo: The Festival of Colours as Celebrated in Goa

The colourful festival of Shigmo is celebrated in Goa, India, during spring, with a lot of fanfare and vibrancy.

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Palanquin Bearers in the Shigmo Procession (2020-03)Incredible India!

While the core legend of Holika prevails as the basis of of the festival, Shigmo is also particular in its celebrations to commemorate the homecoming of warriors who are said to have left to fight invaders after the period of Dussehra (during autum) and returned during Holi (onset of spring).

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The celebrations take the form of grand processions of floats, folk dances and people who join in with their own costumes. Learn more through the eyes of a local!

Musicians Performing at the Procession (2020-03)Incredible India!

The festival dates shift as per the lunar calendar and occurs during the month of phalgun (generally February to March), considered the onset of spring. The celebrations can also be seen as a harvest festival.

Playing the Dhol During the Procession (2020-03)Incredible India!

Dhakto Shigmo and Vadlo Shigmo

The festival is celebrated in two variants, Dhakto Shigmo (small Shigmo) and Vadlo Shigmo (big Shigmo) over a span of 14 days.

Dhakto Shigmo is celebrated by farmers, labourers and the rural population, while Vadlo Shigmo brings the entire community together in song and dance.

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Dhakto Shigmo

In the Old Conquest areas, places that were under Portuguese rule for a long time, the festival of Dhakto Shigmo begins 5 days before the full moon day of the month of phalgun and ends on the full moon day, purnima.

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Vadlo Shigmo

In the New Conquest areas, places that were under Portuguese rule for a shorter time, the festival of Vadlo Shigmo begins on the full moon day and continues for 5 days.

Romtamel Procession with Drums (2020-03)Incredible India!

The Shigmo celebrations can be seen as a fusion between the Hindu festival of Holi and a community carnival.

The Procession Continues (2020-03)Incredible India!

The festival starts after the village deity is bathed and dressed in saffron. A feast is held after offering food to the deities.

Celebrations at the Village Hall (2020-03)Incredible India!

The fifth day of the festival is celebrated as rang panchami with gulaal, which is a red powder used during the festival of colours. Music plays a large role in the rang panchami celebrations.

Dancers at the Procession (2020-03)Incredible India!

On the eleventh and fifteenth day, villagers set out in high spirits, clad in colourful attire and carrying flags in their hands.

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They carry dhwajas, which are red-spotted tower-like structures. Music,  with drums and flutes, call on to a gathering at the village temples and people dance in the temple courtyard.

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The festival is celebrated in the famous temples of Jambavali, Dhargale, Phatarpya and Kansarpalare.

The Procession Begins (2020-03)Incredible India!

At dusk, large parades are also held in cities like Vasco, Ponda, Margao and more. 

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Participants in the parade dress up as various mythological characters – from gods to demons to spirits – and participate in competitions.

Ghode Modni Performance at the Procession (2020-03)Incredible India!

At the parade, a display of traditional dances such as Ghode Modni, which is the horse dance...

Lining Up for the Procession (2020-03)Incredible India!

...traditional Fugdi and Rommatamel dances… 

Elaborate Floats at the Shigmo Procession (2020-03)Incredible India!

…as well as mythological floats and more, delight the crowd.

Musicians Play the Dhol (2020-03)Incredible India!

The festivities continue during all fourteen days, with the streets reverberating with music from the dhol, conch shells, flutes and more.

It isn’t possible to watch all the celebrations during the festival as a lot of them happen in interior villages at night.

Palanquin Bearers (2020-03)Incredible India!

Ending the Festival

On the last day of the festival, the idol of Mallikarjun, an incarnation of Lord Shiva, is taken in the procession on a palanquin while devotees smear each other with colour.

Men Performing the Ghode Modni Dance (2020-03)Incredible India!

The festival comes to an end a sacred bath called Mad Davarap. A spirit named Gadepadap is believed to enter the dancers.

Ghode Modni at the Procession (2020-03)Incredible India!

The festival is celebrated with a lot of gusto and zest, resembling a carnival.

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