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History & Culture of Goa

Goa was a part of the Mauryan Empire, around third century BC. The Satvahanas of Kolhapur, and the Chalukyas of Badami, took over the governance later. Other dynasties followed, including a short-lived Muslim invasion, until the Vijayanagar Empire established itself for almost a century. This era ended with the arrival of the Sultans of Gulbarga, from whom the rule passed on to Adil Shah of Bijapur. Soon, the Dutch, English, French and Portuguese, all began struggling for its possession. Ultimately, in 1510, the Portuguese conquered Goa, with Alfonso de Albuquerque leading the invasion. Having ruled for around four centuries, in 1961, fourteen years after the country's independence, the Portuguese had to leave Goa. Tourist influx started in Goa in the 60s and 70s of 20th century with hippies, the spoiled children of western materialism. Behind them came the explorers, and at the end the mass tourist traffic. With opening of Goan skies for chartered flights, number of holidayers increased exponentially in the 1980 and 90 and growth in numbers is still continued. In 1987, Goa was conferred statehood and Daman and Diu was made a separate union territory.

Goa Culture
In spite of remaining under Portuguese control for so long, majority of the people in Goa are still Hindu. Though, strong catholic influences are visible everywhere in the art, culture, and society. The demography of the state started changing after the coming of the Portuguese in the 15th century due to the spirit of propagating Catholicism they brought with them.

Arts and Crafts of Goa
The art and craft forms of Goa show a remarkable harmony between Portuguese and Indian cultures. The crafts of the state are intricately beautiful, capturing the fancies of tourists and locals alike. These crafts can be at best described as a mirror of Goa's perennial glory and beauty and they have carved a niche for themselves with the connoisseur's of art the world over. The major art forms of the state include bamboo craft, woodcarving, brass metals, seashell craft, papier-mâché, and wooden lacquer ware. Other important crafts of the state include jute macramé, fabric collage, plaster of Paris, crochet and embroidery, fiber and batik prints, fiber stone carving, coconut shell carving, metal embossing, silver and imitation jewelry, cotton dolls, soft toys, woolen tapestry, and artistic weaving.

Music and Dance of Goa - The ultimate experience
At the end of the day's work and before the evening meal, it is a common practice for the young and old to join together in singing devotional songs. Some of these were set to classical ragas and has to be sung to their proper discipline to timing and notes, and thus they served as an introductory course in the appreciation of the higher forms of classical music. Christian music in the Goa originated out of the Church and the Goan music as one knows today is only this form of music. Every village has a band of its own. In the evenings, with the sipping of glass of wine, the sound of a piano fills the night air of the strings of a guitar plucked in tune to a twilight melody.

In terms of dances, Goa is extremely rich for both its traditional folk dances as well as the new generation western dances. Some of the prominent dances of the state include Bhandad, Corredinho that are Portuguese folk dances, the Beauty Dance called Dekhni, apart from Fugdi and Dhalo, Ghode Modnti, Kala and Dashavatar, Lamp Dance, Tonvamel, and Morulem.

Festivals of Goa
Though for visitors, Goa always looks in the mood of celebrations with people singing and dancing even in their daily lives. But on a more formal note, due to the strong Roman Catholic influences, most of the festivals of Goa are Christianity-specific. Feast days, thanksgiving, monsoon celebrations, processions; all mark the Goanese festival calendar. Shigmo, the Goanese version of Holi, is celebrated in the month of February/March. The Feast of Our Lady of Miracles, celebrated 16 days after Easter, is secular by nature and is celebrated with pomp and gaiety by both Hindus and Christians. Then the Carnival in Goa is a non-stop 3-day festival of color, song and music, providing a healthy entertainment for all, young and old. The soothing climate, full of fun- 'n' -frolic, which the Carnival generates, is much longed for. It does not matter whether one enjoys or see others enjoying. There is enthusiasm and happiness all around. Igitun Chalne, held at Sirigao temple in Bicholim during May, is one of Goa's most distinctive festivals. The main attraction of the festival comes when devotees of Goddess Lairaya walk across burning coals to prove their devotion. The Feast of St. Anthony in the month of June is also significant as it marks the beginning of monsoon. Besides such religious festivals, Goa is also known for its arts and crafts fairs, and food festivals.

Goa - Attire
Among on all states of India, Goa has a distinct style in every sphere of life. The people of the state have taken life as it comes and that spirit distinguishes them from others. One peculiar sight in Goa is that of skirts outnumbering saris on the roads, due to strong Portuguese influences. Traditional clothing also has its importance in this society and Konkani women, wearing the sari in a style that is quite different from any other place in India, can be still seen in great numbers.

Goa - Cuisine
Goa is a gourmet's paradise, with the overall quality of food being excellent. Seafood in particular is a gastronomic treat. The winter months have a bounty of Crayfish, Tiger Prawns, Squid, Mussels, Mollusks, and Crabs as well as Fish. On the beaches itself and in the villages adjoining them, many local families run tiny hotels and restaurants. In addition to seafood cooked in the local as well as Western styles, there are Chicken, Beef and Pork dishes. Some local dishes worth a mention are Chicken Xacuti, Cafreal, Pork Vindaloo, Sarapatel, Fish & Prawn Caldiline, Reichado and Balchoo. Large proportions of dishes and deserts contain coconut in them. Some sweet Goan temptations include Bebinca, a layered sweet, Doce, Ale Bete, Bathique, Cocado and Bulinos.

Feni is Goa's famous contribution to the world, the drink prepared from cashew apples. Feni preparation is in fact a cottage industry in Goa and feni is brewed in many a house. Other alcoholic drinks are cheaper here compared to the other states in India.

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