Goan Folk Arts

Dekhni in Konkani language means "bewitching beauty". This song-cum-dance performed only by women to the accompaniment of folk drum "Ghumat", displays a rare blend of Indian and Western cultures. 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 fora long time. The dancers carry pantis (small clay lamps with a wick floating in oil) or artis. Only two or three dekhni songs, composed and scored a long time ago, are extant.

This is a group dance for women, with two major variations: as danced in a circle or by a rows of dancers. Broadly, villages have a dance in a circle but forest settlements have it in rows. A few fixed steps and hand gestures and hand laps are the elements. No instrument or musical accompaniment is found with the dance, but special fugdi songs are innumerable. The songs might be about Puranic stories, family life, complaints, rivalries or people.
Fugdis of different types are danced by women at such festival as the Dhalo or Ganesh Chaturthi - that is at both strictly at religious and folk celebrations.
A striking variation is the kalashi fugdi before Goddess Mahalakshmi during the vrata (disciplinary observance vowed to some diety) offered to that goddess. This is accompained by no songs, but the dancers carry the large vessels called kalashi or ghagar and blow into them rhythmically as they spin around. Altogether twenty-seven types of fugdi have been.

The veerbhadra is the festival of performance in an entirely South Indian style. One actor is made up to represent veerbhadra, who according to Hindu mythology, was created from the matted hair of Shiva at the time of devastation of Daksha's sacrifice.
He dances with two swords in his hands; two main supporters dance at his side; and a whole group supports them with dancing and musically timed shouts.
The dholak and the tasha (respectively a two sided wooded drum and one sided copper drum played with sticks) are the percussion accompaniments.
The costumes are Kannada style and the turbans are Mysore style. The beat is marked during the dance in characteristically southern style with syllables such as tha-thai-ya, thak-

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.

The first mando is thought to have been written down around 1840. However this beautiful form of singing has a tradition which can be traced back much further than that. Although the mando cannot strictly be classified as traditional folk song form; it has been established in Goa for many a year. The mando is very popular among the Christian community in Goa. In the grandest of traditions, the mando-singer was invited specially on occassion of a wedding or some grand celebration. There he would often compose special mandos in honour of the bridal couple, whose qualities were described in detail in the mando.
Expert musicologists opine that the dhulpad, a part of the mando, with a very quick tempo, came into general use first and the mando with the medium tempo later. The dhulpad was sung simply as a relaxation to the sole accompaniment of the ghumat (traditional Goan percussion instrument); the violin and the guitar which are now regular components were incorporated later.
The dhulpad has its roots in Goan folk music and the mando as a whole has evolved and developed from these traditional folk music roots. The mando-dhulpad singing thus has the original nature of folk songs from Goa but has evolved with the music brought by the Portuguese.
The lovely mixture of Goan folk music and Church music that makes up the mando is still very popular in Goa. There is a special Mando festival held every year which attracts a large number of entries from all over the state along with appreciating audiences.

One of the most popular rural dances, Dhalo is performed by women folk on the moonlit night of Hindu 'Pausha' month. This dance is performed during the week-long festivities are held at night time and the main deities propitiated on the occasion are Mother Earth and Sylvan deity, who are supposed to protect their house-holds.
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 called '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 link within themselves with an arm-around-the-back arrangement, singing in unison.
Normally, two rows of women confront each other by prancing forward and backward while singing the stories of their life and the contemporary society.
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 even caricature menfolk.

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.