Wednesday, November 29, 2006 Vishaal 0 Comments

Shigmo is a joyous festival that welcomes the arrival of spring. Like the Holi festival celebrated across the rest of the country, Shigmotsav is celebrated in Goa and is also marked by a similar exuberance of spirit and a bright array of colours that symbolize the rich hues of spring.

Every year around the Month of March, the streets of Panjim come alive in a spectacle which in recent years surpasses even that of Carnival. From 5 - 6pm in the evening until the early hours of the next day, select streets in Panjim are blocked and for hours crowds of young and old, rich and poor, Hindu and Christian, gather and watch as the Shigmo parade winds through the crowded streets.

Long before Christianity made itself a lasting presence of the shores of Goa, Hinduism was the major religion practiced by Goa's people and even today two-thirds of Goans adhere to the Hindu faith. The Hindu pantheon is divided into three - Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer. While Brahma has taken a back seat, most followers of of Hinduism divide themselves into two main sects - Vaishnavites and Shaivites.

Shigmo, besides being an amazing form of entertainment, is also a cultural exhibition of Goa's history from time immemorial upto the present day. The procession begins with the brass bands reminiscent of the Maratha conquerors, followed by a series of Kunbi Folk-Dances performed by village tribal women bedecked in gold and brightly-coloured sarees.

Men marching with poles to the beat of drums, others dancing with decorated umbrellas, both sexes parading in elaborate costumes representing various deities; all can be seen during the Goan Shigmo Parade.

The procession culminates in a line of illuminated
floats atop which larger-than life mechanical figures
represent important deities and some even re-enact their heroic deeds.