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Culture

Goans have always had to assert and adapt their identity in relation to foreign influence. Resistance to Portuguese colonialism has changed into pride at having Portuguese roots, while attempts to maintain the distinction between Goa and India reinforce a ‘Goan’ identity that spurs on environmental, economic and social activism in a bid to keep Goa one of the most prosperous states in the country.

 

The differences are evident but similarities pervade below the surface to unify different versions of Goa. Whether Hindu Goan, Catholic Goan, or new Goan, all have an opinion about the changing face of Goa and nostalgic memories of ‘the way it used to be’, and all are eager to see that Goa doesn’t lose its distinctiveness.

Goan Identity

Goans have always had to assert and adapt their identity in relation to foreign influence. Resistance to Portuguese colonialism has changed into pride at having Portuguese roots, while attempts to maintain the distinction between Goa and India reinforce a ‘Goan’ identity that spurs on environmental, economic and social activism in a bid to keep Goa one of the most prosperous states in the country.

The differences are evident but similarities pervade below the surface to unify different versions of Goa. Whether Hindu Goan, Catholic Goan, or new Goan, all have an opinion about the changing face of Goa and nostalgic memories of ‘the way it used to be’, and all are eager to see that Goa doesn’t lose its distinctiveness.

Susegado

A term that crops up frequently in connection with Goans, susegado (literally meaning ‘quiet’ in Portuguese) is a term that Goans use for their relaxed and laid-back attitude towards life. It’s a philosophy of taking your time in whatever you do, of taking time to sit and chat, of not getting overwrought if work takes longer than planned.

It is susegado that makes a visit to Goa special; people are always ready to smile and say hello, to let you onto a crowded bus or to sit and chat about whatever comes to mind.

Demographics

A native of Goa is called a Goan in English, Goenkar in Konkani, Goês (male) or Goesa (female) in Portuguese, and a Govekar in Marathi.

Goa has a population of 1.344 million with a population growth rate of 14.9% per decade. There are 363 people for each square kilometre of the land. Goa is the state with highest proportion of urban population with 49.76% of the population living in urban areas.

The literacy rate of Goa is over 82%. The sex ratio is 960 females to 1000 males. The birth rate is 15.70 per 1,000 people.


Religion

Goa is often misunderstood as having a Catholic majority, perhaps because Christianity has had so predominant an influence on its history, culture and architecture. In fact, around 65% of Goans are Hindus, 26% are Christians while around 6% are Muslims.

The geographical relationship with religion remains: Hindus are spread across the interior inland talukas: Pernem, Bicholim, Satari, Ponda, Sanguem, Quepem, Canacona and the far north of the state; while Christians tend to reside in the coastal regions, particularly in the central talukas: Tiswadi, Mormugao, Bardez and Salcete. The largest Muslim community is in Ponda, where the state’s oldest mosque is located.

Language

The most widely used languages are Konkani, Marathi and English. Konkani is the primary spoken language; Marathi and English are used for literary, educational and some official purposes. Other languages in wide use include Hindi and Portuguese. Portuguese, the language of the colonial elite, is used by an ever shrinking number of people.

The Goa, Daman and Diu Official Language Act, 1987 makes Konkani in the Devanagari script the sole official language of Goa, but provides that Marathi may also be used "for all or any of the official purposes". The Government also has a policy of replying in Marathi to correspondence received in Marathi. However, whilst there have been demands for according Marathi and Konkani in Roman script co-equal status in the state, Konkani remains the sole official language.

Dance and music

Revelry, music and dance flow through the blood of the Goan community. As a result of 450 years of colonization by the Portuguese, Goan music has evolved to a form that is quite different from traditional Indian music. This historic amalgamation from the East and West has produced some of India’s best artistes such as Lata Mangueshkar and Remo Fernandes. While Lata Mangueskar has brought classical Indian music to the world, Remo has succeeded in bringing a unique blend of Indo-Western pop.

The most popular forms of post-Portuguese music were the mando and the dulpod, whilst dekhni is one of the most well-known forms of dance.

Goan folk music has a lively rhythm and the folk-dances a rugged vitality. The musical accompaniment for both folk songs and the folk dances is provided by a diversity of musical instruments – Ghumats, Dhols, Cymbals (Drums), Flutes, Harmonium, Violins and Guitars. The favorite, however, seems to be the Ghumat.

The innumerable folk dances and forms encountered in Goa include Talgadi, Goff, Tonya Mel, Mando, Kunbi dance, Suvari, Dasarawadan, Virabhadra, Hanpeth, Gauda jagar, Ranmale, Fugadi, Corridinho, Ghode Modni, Lamp Dance, Musal Dance, Romat or Mell, Morullem, Bhandap, Dhangar Dance, Dekhni and Dhalo.

Goan Hindus are very fond of Natak, Bhajan and Kirtan.

Many famous Indian Classical singers hail from Goa, including Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Kishori Amonkar, Kesarbai Kerkar, Jitendra Abhisheki and Pandit Prabhakar Karekar.


Theatre

Natak, Tiatr and Zagor are the main forms of Goa's traditional performance arts. Other forms are Ranmale, Dashavatari, Kalo, Goulankala, Lalit, Kala and Rathkala. Stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata along with more modern social subjects are narrated with song and dance.

What distinguishes the tiatr from other dramatic art forms, is the songs on topical, burning, controversial issues that are interspersed throughout the performance. The tiatrs, almost all of which are in Konkani, provide a platform for satire on politics, current affairs and day-to-day domestic issues. Each tiatr usually comprises seven acts of fifteen or so minutes each, with song and dance in between.

An annual tiatr festival is held at the Kala Academy in Panaji, which showcases the work of well-known tiatr writers.

Food

Rice with fish curry (Xit kodi in Konkani) is the staple diet in Goa. Goan cuisine is famous for its rich variety of fish dishes cooked with elaborate recipes. Coconut and coconut oil are widely used in Goan cooking along with chilli peppers, spices and vinegar giving the food a unique flavour.

Pork dishes such as Vindaloo, Xacuti and Sorpotel are cooked for major occasions among the Goan Catholics. An exotic Goan vegetable stew, known as Khatkhate, is a very popular dish during the celebrations of festivals, Hindu and Christian alike. Khatkhate contains at least five vegetables, fresh coconut, and special Goan spices that add to the aroma.

Sannas, a variant of idli, and Koilori, a variant of dosa, are native to Goa. A rich egg-based multi-layered sweet dish known as bebinca is a favourite at Christmas.

The most popular alcoholic beverage in Goa is feni. Cashew feni is made from the fermentation of the fruit of the cashew tree, while coconut feni is made from the sap of toddy palms.

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