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Home :: Goa Tourism :: Dances of Goa

Dances in Goa

The Origin: Dashavatara term refers to the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu ('Das' means ten, 'Avatar' means incarnations). Scholars are divided into two groups as far as the origin of the dance is concerned. One group believes it to have evolved from "Yakshagana"; another group considers it to have emerged from "Kuchipudi".

Many actors believe that Dashavatara is originally a dance form from Kerala, and they worship a deity of the Walaval region of Kerala. Whatever the source maybe, the form was introduced to the Konkan region in the 16th century.

Theme & The Enactment
The subject of the theft of the 'Vedas' is discussed by the "Sutradhar" (stage manager), 'Brahmin' figures, women actors representing the rivers, actors playing Lord Brahma (the Creator) and Goddess Saraswati (the goddess of learning), and the demon Shankhasur.

The overture continues for about two hours, and the proper drama known as "Akhyana" begins after this. The play, concerning itself with stories from the epics and mythology, concludes at sunrise.

The red and white makeup of Dashavatara actors distinguishes them from the spectators who arrive shortly before 11.00 pm for the performance. The evening commences with prayers to Ganapati or Ganesha (the elephant-headed god), sung by the Sutradhar (stage manager).
Performed By : Both Male And Female Actors.

Folk Dance of Goa
Goan folk dances bear a tradition of thousands of years, characterized by innumerable forms performed by and reflecting lifestyles, cultures and aspirations of different strata, religions and castes of Goan society.

The prominent ones include Corredinho Dance, Dekhni Dance, Dhalo Dance, Dhangar Dance, Fugdi Dance, Ghode Modni, Goff Dance, Kunbi Dance, Lamp Dance, Mussal dance and Romal Dance.

Dance Style
Goff Dance: It is a folk dance with cords, manifesting joy and happiness of Goan peasants after the harvest. It is performed during the Shigmo Festival in Phalgun (March) month. Each dancer holds a colourful cord hanging at the centre point of the 'Mand' - the place of performance - and starts dancing intricately with the others, forming a beautiful, colourful, intricate braid at the end of the first movement.

The music starts again and the dancers reverse the pattern of dancing so skillfully that the braid gets unraveled and at the end of the second movement, all the cords are loose and single once again. There are 4 different braids of Goff. The songs sung are devoted to Lord Krishna. "Ghumat", "Samael" and "Surta Shansi" or melodic instruments accompany the dance. Goff has an affinity with tribal dance forms of Gujarat.

Kundi Dance
Kunbis, the earliest settlers of Goa, are a sturdy tribal community mostly settled in Salcete Taluka, who though converted to Christianity, still retains the most ancient folk tradition of the land. Their songs and dance belonging to the pre-Portuguese era are uniquely social and not religious. The fast and elegant dance by a group of Kunbi women dancers, wearing traditional yet very simple dresses, lends a colourful touch to this ethnic art form.

Lamp Dance
This dance derives its name from brass lamps used in the dance during the Shigmo festival. The accompanying instruments include Ghumat, Samael, Cymbal and Harmonium. The performers indulge in a slow dancing movement, balancing brass lamps with burning wicks on the head and the hands. The balancing act controlled by tremendous self-discipline and exquisite footwork matching with the rhythms of the traditional folksongs are eye-catching. This group dance is popular in the southern and central Goa.

Mussal Dance
The Kshatriyas, the warrior class of 'Chandor' (erstwhile Chandrapur, the capital of the "Kadamba" rulers) perform this dance-cum-song to celebrate the victory of Harihar, the Hindu King of Vijaynagar over the Cholas in the early 14th century. They hold and brandish pestles ('Mussals') - a favourite war instrument with the Yadavas - during the victory parade and dance as the original one held centuries ago.

The march comprises 4 couplets while the main dance uses 22 couplets. Originally the Gaonkars did the performance on the full-moon night of the Falguna. The Kshatriyas, though converted to Christianity, still retains the cultural heritage and perform it now on the second day of the carnival.

Romat Dance
This thanks-giving ceremonial dance-cum-procession performed during the Shigmo festival is known as Romat in the northern Goa and Mell in the central Goa. It is an extremely crowded, noisy and colourful affair. Teams of dancers drawn from different sections of the village dance and march martially with huge banners, ceremonial umbrellas, festooned sticks and batons towards the temple of the presiding deity or to the house of the landlord.

The cacophony emanating from deafening beats of huge 'Dhols' and 'Tashas' and a prolonged, vigourous dancing procession displaying colourful dresses leave the spectators spell-bound.

Jagar & Tiatr
Performing Arts: Jagar & Tiatr
Drama: Goa is highly rich in folk drama forms that narrate, often with songs and music, the stories of great epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and also project relevant, contemporary issues the society or the community is concerned with.

Jagar: This earliest form of drama in Goa is supposed to be the precursor of modern Marathi theatre. There are two forms performed by two different communities.

The Two Forms: One form, the "Perani Jagar" is performed exclusively by the Hindu Perani community. The theme tackles philosophical questions like the origin of the universe in the background of mythology. The other form known as "Gawda Jagar" is enacted by the Christian Gawda community in different villages in Goa in different styles. The theme is derived from the contemporary village life.

A Tiatr is a form of entertainment unique to Goa. Not exactly a drama or a musical drama, it consists of 6 or 7 acts, each of roughly 15 minutes' duration, called Podd'dde, which are interspersed by 2 or 3 songs, solo, duo or duet, trio, quarter or group song.

Theme Songs
The songs are unrelated to the play but based on social, political or religious themes. This mix of songs and plays makes Tiatr popular among the masses. The character of Tiatr changed after the independence. While family quarrels, heavily laced with Portuguese language and influence, formed the story of Tiatr in the pre-liberation era, social, religious and political themes crept in the post-liberation period.

Khell Tiatr, a derivative of Tiatr, performed in villages during the Carnival, Intruz and Easter in the open ground, differs from Tiatr in that its songs are relevant to the main play.

Some of the other popular folk drama forms are "Dashavatari", "Goulankala", "Kala", "Lalit, Kalo", "Ranmale", and "Rathkala".


Throughout the year, the Kala Academy conducts a number of festivals in different fields of arts, which draw famous artists from all over India besides providing local artists unique opportunities to share the stage and perform. These include:

• Artists Camp January
• Bhajan Competition August
• Christmas Carol Singing December
• Kirtan Mahotsav September At Quepem
• Konkani Drama Festival November/December
• Marathi Drama Festival November/December
• Pop, Beat & Jazz Music Festival May
• State Art Exhibition December
• Surashree Kesarbai Smriti Sangeet Samaroha November
• Tiatr Festival November

Besides, an Indian classical music festival, "Annual Sangeet Sammelan" in memory of Master Dinanath Mangeshkar is held every year at his native village temple, Shri Shantadurga Devasthan in December at Kavalem.

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