Goa is a cosmopolitan paradise where a blend of cultures mix seamlessly together. The music and culture of Goa brilliantly fuses a variety of religions and nations, helping to create an incredible, vibrant destination. They say that ‘Goans have music in their blood’, and it’s easy to see why. Its people carry the atmosphere of this party hub. Goan music has influenced artists around the world and taking a trip here is the perfect chance to experience this unique culture.
In the nightclubs and discos of the region, DJs play a huge variety of music from traditional Portuguese ballads, to techno, rave, and the region’s own Goa Trance. This home-grown electronic music blends the spiritualism of India with synth-sampling and keyboard tones that became popular during the 80s. With worldwide appeal, this genre spread across the globe in the 90s, and is still popular today. Every night you’ll find clubs playing some of this incredible music across Calangute Beach, Apora and Saligao.
Apart from the modern music, you’ll discover that dozens of instruments that are a core part of Indian music, such as the tanpura and the nagado, are native to this region. Other instruments, such as the ghumat, are an essential part of Hindu festivals, and many songs, performed in the region’s native language of Konkani, are included in cultural and religious ceremonies throughout India.
Having spent over 450 years under Portuguese rule, Western sounds have also played a large part in the development of Goa’s music. During this time, it was common for schools to teach students to play the trumpet, guitar or drums. Folk dances such as the corrindinho, mando and other Catholic celebrations influenced existing traditions to form amazing genres of their own. When you hear traditional Goan music, usually in Konkani, it may only use Indian instruments, or in a fusion with Western instruments, used in harmony to create truly beautiful tunes.
These musical traditions are crafted with the influence of the incredible locations and landmarks of the region. Goa’s culture is a reflection of the rich religious diversity of India as a whole. In Goa you’ll find Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples that sit only miles away from some of the more modern Portuguese Catholic churches. Nowhere is this fusion better seen than in the festivals of the region. Diwali and Ganesh Chaturthi are celebrated alongside Christmas and Easter, with a unique blend of Eastern and Western traditions on show. The carnival during Shigmo celebrates the Goan culture with parades, street dancers and folk dancing accompanied by elaborate floats showing off aspects of the region’s mythology. The feasts of St. Francis Xavier, whose remains are held in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, and St. John’s Festival are the most important Catholic festivals in the region, which show off the Portuguese influence in this region.
A more modern addition to the unique Goan culture is the hippy scene that developed from the 1960s onwards. The tourist-friendly nature of Goa makes it one of the prime stops on the so-called hippie trail between India and Nepal. The exciting mix of cultures and religions make it a natural place for those in search of spirituality and higher meaning, with places like Calangute and Baga becoming ‘hippie capitals’. The region’s countercultural charm has recently moved further up the coast, to resorts such as Arambol, but is still visible in the markets of Anjuna Beach, where it’s common to see the tie-dyed clothing, bandanas and beads that used to make up the ‘uniform’ of the Baga hippies.
And this is all part of what makes Goa so special as a destination; the many hints to its cultural past. Walking around central Panaji you’ll see the collision of old Portuguese buildings, ancient temples and modern Indian architecture, all with a light sheen of hippy chic. It’s an incredible destination, and ideal for enthusiasts of rich, diverse cultures and history, looking for the next place to land.