Dances, Folk Music, Tiatr

Performing arts

Goa is a land of highly talented and artistic people with a rich cultural synthesis blending East and West most creatively. In addition to the classical different forms of music and dance have evolved. Music and dance form the very fibre of rural Goa. Each occasion and region has its distinctive forms. The urban areas have adapted to modern and popular music

Women perform a number of the traditional dances like Dekni - a rare blend of traditional and modern music. Fugdi and Dhalo are the most common folk dances of Goa. The Kunbi is a tribal folk dance. Women holding lamps on their heads perform the lamp dance during Shigmo festival. Morulem is another traditional folk dance presented by the backward community during Shigmo. The Zagor is a folk play presented in different villages of Goa by the Gawda community. The Dhangar, performed during Navratri, is a vigorous session of worship and dance. Mando is a love song which represents the mingling of Indian and western tradition.


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 are described here.

Corredinho 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 Dance

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 river bank 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.

Dhalo Dance

One of the most popular Goan dances, Dhalo is performed by women folk on the moonlit night of Pausha month. Compared to Fugdi, it 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.

Dhangar Dance

Dhangars, a shepherd community believed to have migrated from Kathiawar region of South Gujarat and settled in the hilly north-western 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 Dance

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 the name Foogdi or 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 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 war horses.

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 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 unrevelled 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.

Kunbi 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. An example of a Kunbi song:

"The coy bride is filling the pitcher in the ankle-deep water of the rivulet and the fish (called) Thigur is winking at her."

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 folk songs are eye-catching. This group dance is popular in the southern and central Goa.

Mussal Dance

The Kshatriyas, the warrior class of Chandor (earstwhile 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.


Goa is a land of music, often admired as 'a nest of singing birds'. This tiny land, cradled between the Sahyadris and the Arabian Sea, speaks with the beat of Ghumat and note of Violin the year round. Goan music stands apart from music of other regions in its peculiar mix of Western and Indian traditions.


Mando is a group song-cum-dance of Goan Catholics. A group of boys and girls, some 20 in number, form a semi-circular pattern in two lines with the girls in the front line and the boys in the back line. The songs cover the entire gamut of emotions in love, accompanied by the beats of Ghumat and romantic strains of violin. Set to the Latin American tune, the song with a local theme starts with a sad and slow note and ends on a faster beat called Dulpods or Durpodha, the rhythmic pattern being akin to Khaiyal songs. In fact Mando represents the mingling of Indian and Western traditions. The girls and the boys sing a
line of the song one after the other or sometimes in chorus. The girls wear a peculiar dress called Tollopo resembling Burmese Saronge.

Suvari-Folk Music

It is a traditional folk music, a tone setter to all Hindu religious and festival performances. The music is orchestral in nature and relies heavily on laya and tal, as spoken words are few. The orchestra consists of ghumat, shamel, cymbals and sometimes sehnai and surt. The popularity of Suvari can be gauged from the fact that a good Suvari band is regarded as a matter of pride and honour of a village.

Other forms of Goan music include Banvad, Cantaram, Dasra Vadan, Gadya Ramayan, Gaun Kani, Gosavi Gayan, Gudulya Geetam, Jat, Lagan Geet, Lavni, Pavada, and devotional music like Bhajan-Dindi, Carol Singing, Kirtan and Ladainha.


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.


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. 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. 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.

Kala Academy Festivals

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