Goa: History & Culture

The earliest documented history of Goa goes to Sumerian times of 2200BC, when it was referred as Gubio by the Sumerians. Around 1775BC, Phoenician started settlements in Goa. During the Vedic period (1000AD-500BC), when Mahabharatha was written, Goa was referred as Gomantak. By 200BC Emperor Ashoka annexed Goa to his Empire.

After Mauryas various dynasties took control of Goa. The Scytho-Parthians (2nd - 4th century AD), the Chalukyas of Badami (6th - 8th century AD), the Rastrakutas (8th - 10th century), the Kadambas and Yadavas of Devagiri (11th - 14th century), Vijayanagar Empire (14th and 15th century), the Bahmanis and Bijapur Sultans 15th -16th century) were in possession of Goa. During the reign of Chalukyas and Kadambas (937-1310AD) Chandrapur(Chandor) served as their capital.

In 1530 Alfonso De Albuquerque landed in Goa and took over Goa from Bijapur Sultan. By 1543 they have widened their control over Salcette, Marmagao and Bardez. By 16th century AD Goa reached its peak and was referred as the golden Goa. Goa reached its present size by 18th century with a series of annexations.

The Marathas almost overrun the Portuguese in the late 18th century. There was a brief occupation by British during the war with Napoleon in Europe. Other than that Goa continued to be under the rule of Portugal until 1961. In 1961 India liberated Goa through a military expedition. Goa remained a union territory for 26 years and became a state in 1985.

Goa's cultural heritage evolved from its history of Hindu, Muslim and Portuguese rulers. Each one left behind distinctive marks on the land and the lives of the people.

The traditional crafts of Goa are pottery, terracotta, brass metal works, wooden lacquer ware, crochet and embroidery, bamboo craft, seashell craft and coconut mask carving.

Goan cuisine is a delicate art. Being a coastal state, seafood is the speciality of Goan cooking. It blends the Indian and western verities to serve delicacies on the table.

The Goans are a highly talented people. They evolved distinctively different forms of art, craft and music blending creatively the East with the West. There are a number of traditional dances performed at different occasions.

Dekni is a folkdance form performed by women. The dance is performed with a blend of Indian and western rhythms.

Dhangar Dance is performed during the Navaratri days. It is a vigorous session of worship and dance.

Fugdi & Dhalo is the most common folkdance form performed in Goa. The dance is also performed by women.

Morulem is a traditional folkdance form performed by the backward community during Shigmo festival.



The Konkani tiatr, a dramatic art form, unique to Goa has flourished and thrived for over a hundred years. Tiatr has been sustained entirely by popular support as it has never been extended any patronage and help either by the Portuguese colonial regime or successive governments in post liberation Goa.


Tiatr shows are invariably housefull particularly when a new tiatr is launched. Tiatrist have achieved a high degree of professionalism in recent years with elaborate sets, lighting and other technical aspects. But the success of the tiatr is mainly due to the fact that the themes chosen are topical and contemporary.
What distinguishes the tiatr from other dramatic forms, is the songs on topical, burning, controversial issues that are interspersed through the performance. These musical interludes which are very satirical are independent of the main theme of the play. The songs are irreverent and gently or at times even savagely poke fun at the government.
There is a very healthy sense of irreverence in the themes and the dialogues in tiatr and the high and mighty including ministers and even priests. The tiatr as a dramatic form has been traditionally the exclusive preserve of the Christian community.
Even the harshest critics of tiatr acknowledge that it was this dramatic form which kept the Konkani language alive during Portuguese colonial rule, when Konkani was suppressed. Tiatrists played a major role in the struggle to make Konkani the officials language of the State.

Goan Folk Dances and Art Forms

Folklores bind the present with the past and keep the continuity of civilization. The originality of folklores have pleasantly surprised even most erudite scholars and litterateurs.

Goa has been inhabited by many racial stocks. No other region in India perhaps has had such a wide variety of political regimes. The various rules introduced their life styles and cultural influences of which, the marks are vividly to be seen in the races and the rulers, there have been the in comers for trade and commerce and the men of the armed forces drawn from different cultural groups.

During the history spanning over 2,000 years of life, Goa has been shaped by the Bhojas, Shilaharas, Rashtrakutas, Kadambas, Vijaynagar rulers, Adilshahi and finally the Portuguese. The changing colours of history have left their multiple and lovely shades on the Goan life. And folk art has not been an exception to it.

The diversity of these cultural influences makes Goa distinctive although it shares in a general way the culture of the coastal Konkan strip. Among 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, Ghode Modni, Lamp Dance, Musal Dance, Romat or Mell, Morullem, Bhandap, Dhangar Dance, Dekhni and Dhalo.

The traditional folk music and dances have continued uninterruptedly, while the influence of the Portuguese music and dance on the local culture has helped evolve new forms. This happy blending and co-existence of cultural traditions gives a unique character the music and folk dances of Goa..



Goan Culture

Goa’s cultural traditions literally stretch back to the dawn of civilization. Despite successive onslaughts and the ravages of alien occupation, Goa’s cultural traditions have displayed amazing resilience with stimulation by every fresh challenge.
To a large extent, Goa’s cultural heritage was enriched by a slow but unremitting process of absorption and assimilation of the more congenial features of alien culture. The focal point being the symbiosis of Latin and local cultural strains.
Music itself runs the entire gamut of sonic versatility; from the rustic Dhangar (Shepherd) playing and flutes to sophisticated tabla and sitar or violin and piano soloist thrilling large audiences in concert halls. Music is the time seller at all major social events-feasts, festivals, “zatras”, and marriages.
Freedom brought about a cultural renaissance in Goa along with providing a fresh impetus to the classic literature and fine arts and a revival of the folk arts.
Once again the almost forgotten folk dances Dhalo, Fugdi, Corridinho, Mando and performing folk arts (like Khell-Tiatro), Jagar-perani and many others have come out into their own. Indeed the folk music and folk dances have crossed the borders of the state and become popular in the rest of the country during the past 25 years.
A Goan is said to be born with music in his blood and music literally accompanies him from the cradle to the grave. Musical traditions run in whole generations.