Goa is the ‘Rome of East’, which is among the most popular modern tourist destinations in India with its rich and varied heritage, the Goan culture and tradition manage to attract tons to people to its sea beaches every year. In ancient literature, the region of Goa was known by different names such as Gomanchala Gomanta, Gopakapuri, Gopakapattam, Govem, Govapuri, and Gomantak. The epic of Mahabharata refers to the area of Goa as Govarashtra or Goparashtra, which in the literal sense meant “A Nation of Cowherds”. In the 3rd century, Incredible BC the civilization of Goa was known as the Aparantha and has also been mentioned by the renowned Greek geographer, Ptolemy.
By the beginning of the 13th century, the Greeks started to refer to the region of Goa as Nelkinda. While other historical names for Goa includes, Sandabur, Sindapur and Mahassapatam. Vasco Da Gama (1460-1524), a Portuguese explorer discovered the Ocean Route from Portugal to East in. He started his sail to the East from Lisbon, Portugal on 8th July 1497. In recent times, the west coast of India is named after the explorer. It is called Vasco.
History of Goa
The history of Goa dates thousands of years back. Goa was a part of the Mauryan Empire in the 3rd century B.C. The Satavahanas of Kolhapur and the Chalukyas of Badami also had their share of ruling over the lands of Goa. The harbours of Goa had been a crucial stop for the ships that carried Arabian horses for the influential Vijaynagar cavalry. It was the one of an ideal base for the naval Portuguese, who ventured into the ports in 1510 AD with the aim to dominate the route of spice that traversed from the east.
St. Francis Xavier led the Jesuit missionaries to Goa in 1542 and rendered significance influence over the life and religion of the people which altered the Goa history. The Marathas defeated the Portuguese from time to time during their reign in the dominant parts of India till the arrival of British. The occupational reign of Portuguese on the subcontinent met its end when the Indian army marched its way into the territory. In the fateful year of 1987, under the leadership of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Goa was officially announced as the 25th Indian state.
Geography of Goa
Goa covers an area of about 3,702 sq. KMs and its coordinates fall under a degree of latitudes 14°53′54″ N and 15°40′00″ N and longitudes 73°40′33″ E and 74°20′13″ E. The major portion of Goa is a part of a coastal country that is known as the Konkan. The mountainous range of Western Ghats separates the coastal region of Goa from the Deccan Plateau. The highest point of Goa is the Sonsogor, which has an altitude of about 1,167 metres (3,829 feets). Goa has a coastline that extends up to 101 Km (63 miles).
One of the most interesting facts about Goa biodiversity is that The Western Ghats have been internationally recognised among one of the major biodiversity hotspots in the world. Goa in the age of extinction has been compared by the The National Geographic Magazine, in its issue of 1999 with the Congo basins and the amazons for its rich and varied tropical biodiversity.
Goa has renowned ‘National Parks’, including the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. Other wildlife sanctuaries in Goa include the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Molem Wildlife Sanctuary, Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary, Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, and Madei Wildlife Sanctuary.
Climatic Conditions in Goa
Tropical monsoon climate is widespread in the region of Goa as featured in Köppen climate classification. Its location near the Arabian Sea ensures a hot and humid climate in Goa for most of the year. May is the hottest month of the year with an average temperature of over 35°C (95°F) usually accompanied by high humidity. The monsoon rains set in by early June and brings the much-needed respite from the unbearable heat. The monsoons normally last until late September. Goa, being a tropical zone witnesses short and humid winter season that usually sets in by mid-December and lasts till February. The average winter temperature fluctuates in and around 21°C (70°F) – 28°C (82°F).
The following are some interesting facts about Goa:
- The city of Panaji is the capital of Goa.
- Vasco da Gama is the biggest city in the region and is situated in south Goa.
- The state has a literacy rate of 87% and is positioned 3rd for the same.
- Konkani is the official language of Goa and it is written in the Devanagari script.
- Sonsogor is the highest point of Goa with an altitude of 167 meters.
- The Mormugao Port is the major port of Goa.
- The exotic sun-kissed sea beaches in Goa, beach carnivals, adventure sports and beautiful mausoleums and Portuguese churches, which ran high in the list of Goa tourist places and has also led to the growth and development of the Goa tourism.
- The Mormugao Harbor on the River Zuari is among the best natural harbours in the South Asia.
- The state animal of Goa is the Gaur, while the state bird is the Ruby Throated Yellow Bulbul, and the state tree is the majestic Asan.
- Wildlife sanctuaries in Goa has over 1512 documented species of plants, about 275 bird species, more than 48 kinds of animals and around 60 genera of the reptile family.
- The state has over 300 ancient water tanks that were built during the rule of the Kadamba dynasty and has more than a 100 medicinal springs
The Culture of Goa and Goan Catholics is a combination of Indian and Portuguese culture. Goa was colonised by the Portuguese for about 450 years since they arrived in Goa in 1510. Goa’s cultural heritage comprises of a number of churches, mosques and temples. Goa’s vibrant cultural richness is reflected through its folk dances, folk culture and songs and form a major part of the Goa rituals. Its series of famous monuments reveal the attractive architecture of the 16th century. The contemporary Gao is a picture of the amalgamation of its past culture and evolving rituals post-liberation, most followed the Portuguese tradition and retained the Hindu caste system and its certain customs, traditions and rituals. The current Catholic culture can be appropriately described as an evolving anglicised Indo-Latin culture.
The Citizens of Goa
The residents of Goa are extremely religious-minded and deeply conscious of their ethnicity. The region of Goa comprises of believers of different religions, castes, and creeds. Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism are the prevalent religions among the people of Goa.
Major Festivals and Goa Celebrations
India is a land of diverse culture and beliefs. Goa being a part of this diverse land enjoys a medley of various cultural zest and festivities. The major festivals of India like Diwali, Eid, Christmas, Holi, Baisakhi are celebrated with equal enthusiasm in Goa. Other religious occasions that can be marked as important Goa celebrations include Good Friday, Easter, The Zagor, The Feast of Saint Francis Xavier, Moti Fest, Bonderam Festival, Shigmo Festival. Feast of Passion of Christ, Feast of Holy Cross, the Procession of Saints, Feast of St.John the Baptist, Feast of St. Peter. The Goa Carnival is one of the most colourful and grand festivals of Goan Catholics. The Carnival is a four-day fiesta filled with songs and music that make the Goa culture and Goa traditions come alive. Celebrations including, fetes, fairs and fests comprise an important part of the Goa rituals and attracts tourism in Goa.
The Goan Food forms an essential part of the vibrant Goan culture. The medley of cultures like the Konkan, the Portuguese and the Bahamani Nawabi traditions has lent its colour to the Goan cuisines. Goa is abundant in a vast variety of fishes, especially prawns, oysters, mussels and crabs. Goa is famous for its seafood recipes. Pork sausage, Goa Sausage Risotto, pork ribs, roasted pork and roasted beef are also popular.
Clothing trends in Goa
People of Goa are attracted to western dresses and they are mostly seen walking around in exuberant dresses that totally manifest the party essence of Goa. The Portuguese influence is still prevalent over the latest fashion trends in Goa and the clothing of the people, especially women who prefer vibrant floral prints on their Skirts, One-Piece and Gowns. Other than those, Sarees, Salwar-Kurtas, Jeans and Tops are also worn by the women. Men prefer shirt and trousers most of the time.
Goa is among the most popular wedding destinations in India, the weddings in Goa are Catholic-themed which involves many diverse customs and popular traditions that are known to capture the happiest times of couple beautifully. Beach themed weddings, weddings by the waterfall or scenic resorts are the hotspots of weddings in Goa. The clothing trends in Goa undergo evolution with time but the authentic costumes can never be fully uprooted from the culture.