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
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.
A Portuguese folk dance and a beautiful example of Portuguese cultural influence, this elegant dance is highly popular among Goan elite youth. Corredinho Marcha de Fontainhas, a song-cum-dance, is famous for its rhythmic and exquisite footwork where normally six couples take part. The colourful costumes are a feast to the eye.
Dekhni in Konkani language means "bewitching beauty". This solo song-cum-dance performed only by woman to the accompaniment of folk drum "Ghumat", displays a rare blend of Indian and Western cultures. The dance enacts the life of a "Devdasi" (literally meaning servant of God) girl whose job is to perform dance in temples and social ceremonies like weddings.
The theme is of a Devdasi girl who comes to a riverbank to take a ferry to reach the other side where she has an appointment to dance in a wedding. She requests the adamant boatman for a favour and is even ready to offer him her golden earring for taking her across urgently.
The dance set to western rhythms and Indian melody, is livened up by the conversation between the girl and the boatman in the form of a lilting song, which lingers in the mind for a long time.
One of the most popular Goan dances, Dhalo is performed by women folk on the moonlit night of 'Pausha' month. Compared to Fugdi dance, this dance is slow. The songs are in Konkani and Marathi. Normally 12 - 24 women assemble after the dinner at a pre-selected specific spot ('Mand') in the courtyard of a house in the village.
They arrange themselves in 2 parallel rows of 12, facing each other, and in a tribal fashion form a close knit by linking themselves arm-around, the back arrangement, singing in unison. The songs cover religious and social themes. The dance goes on every night for a week. On the concluding day, women sport all sorts of fancy dresses and caricature man.
Dhangars, a shepherd community believed to have migrated from Kathiawar region of South Gujarat and settled in the hilly northwestern fringes of Goa, are very pious and worship the God called "Bira Deva". During Navaratra (literally meaning 'nine nights') festival, the leader of the house observes abstinence and fast, takes bath at early hours in the morning, milks his share of lone one cup of milk per day and prays and dances before the family deity.
On the tenth day, after a feast, all the families take out their family idols to an open space in the village, called 'Mand' and perform a vigorous session of dance accompanied by song. The dance begins with a slow beat and simple footwork to the accompaniment of Dhol, cymbals and a long flute called 'Pawa'. Their traditional songs centre on the love story of the Hindu God Krishna and his beloved Radha. The Kathiawari-styled white dress and turban in this dance point to their ancestral lineage.
Fugdi or "Foogdi" is the most popular folk dance form of Goa, performed only by women. Though basically a non-religious, all-weather dance, it is danced on all-important social and religious occasions, and even at the end of other dances like Dhalo. The dance starts with invocation to Hindu Gods at a slow pace of footwork in a circular formation, and suddenly it attains a fast pace reaching climax.
The theme of the song becomes social aspects and matching action forms are enacted. At the maximum speed, the dancers matches the rhythm by blowing air through the mouth that sounds like "FOO". Hence, it got the name Foogdi or Fugdi.
Types Of Fugdi
The two sub-forms are "Katti Fugdi" and "Kalshi Fugdi". The former is a performance with coconut shells in hands whereas; the latter form is performed in Satari Taluka with water pitchers ('Kalshi') after the Shravan religious ritual of newly wedded woman.
Ghode Modni ('Ghode' means 'horse' and 'Modni' means 'gyrations and dance-like movements') is literally a dance involving horse-like movements. It is a spectacular warrior-dance commemorating the victory of the Ranes, the Maratha rulers of the Satari Taluka in Goa, over the Portuguese. This dance is popular in Bicholim, Pernem and Satari Talukas once ruled by the Marathas.
It is performed during the "Shigmo" festival. The Kshatriya dancers wear head gears made of colourful flowers, don in full traditional livery, fix at the waist effigy of a wooden horse beautifully bridled and decorated with spotless white clothes, and carry 'Ghungurs' in the anklets. Holding the bridle in one hand and brandishing and waving a naked sword with the other hand, the dancers move forward and backward to the beat of drums - 'Dhol', 'Tasha' and Cymbals - to recreate the prancing of warhorses.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.