With the country going through the second wave of Coronavirus pandemic, the celebrations of the upcoming festivals in the country are likely to witness muted celebrations. Apart from the festival of Holi four days later, there are many impending festivals in different parts of the country including Shigmotsav, the annual festival of the state of Goa. Goa recently started recording more than 1000 daily Covid cases increasing its tally substantially in a matter of days as it had only recorded 700 cases on March 15, the Indian Express reported.
What is the Shigmo festival?
Rooted in the Konkan culture of Goans, the colourful festival is celebrated with songs, dances, cultural performances. Like many other festivals in the country which trace their origin to various stages of a crop cycle, the Shigmo festival also celebrates the harvest of paddy (rice). Prajal Sakhardande who is a Professor of History at the state capital’s Dhempe College of Arts and Science told the Indian Express that the tribal agricultural communities including Kunbis, Gawdas and Velips celebrate the festival with great pomp and show. Sakhardande further said that celebrated in the month of March-April every year, the festival also celebrates the arrival of spring season.
Festivities and Rituals of Shigmo
The festivities begin with the ‘Naman’ (invocation) to the local folk deities from the villages. The musical beats of instruments like Dhol, Mhadle and Tashe accompany the prayers as the procession moves from one village to another. The procession accompanies a lot of attractions including people clad in colourful traditional costumes with their faces painted with vibrant colours. The members of the procession also perform folk dances like Ghodemodini and Gopha.
Recently the state government started the practice of parades on the cultural festival in different urban areas of the coastal state. Terming it a deaprture from what essentially is a rural folks’ festival, Professor Sakhardande said the government has started the practice of parades with floats on the occasion of Shigmo and the state Carnival festival. The parades which attract the attention of the domestic as well as international tourists will be held in the state on April 3 and April 4 this year.
Impact of Covid-19 on Shigmo celebrations
The government has decided to limit the parade celebrations at only three places in the state namely Panaji, Mapusa and Ponda. In contrast to the the state Carnival festival held in February this year which saw a huge congregation of people at the venue of the celebration, the state government is mulling strong social distancing measures at the time of Shigmo festivities. Goa Health minister Vishwajit Rane was quoted as saying that the increase in cases of Coronavirus might force the government to curtain the gatherings of people