The Indian state of Goa offers a variety of tourist attractions throughout the year and on special occasions. They range from major religious festivities to important historic sites and yoga retreats.
Christmas in Goa
Goa is a state with a strong Christian minority; about a third of the population are Catholic. So being in Goa for Christmas is a wonderful experience. From the beginning of December the houses, streets, churches and cathedrals are resplendent with Christmas stars and lights.
Highlights are the various nativity plays in the churches, outside in public places or in private homes. The cafés, shacks and restaurants will play Christmas songs all day long and holidaymakers can expect a plethora of festive concerts and parties.
Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve is a key highlight for Christian families. And the churches are so packed that most people must stand outside to listen.
The Christmas cuisine includes fish curries, bebinca (a sweet portugese influenced cake), and dodol, a Goanese Christmas cake. On Christmas Day, nothing beats a cocktail on the beach. And of course New Year celebrations provide even more reasons to party.
Another important religious festivity is Ganesh Chathurti for the Hindu community. In the quiet low season time during the end of the monsoon (August or September, depending on the hindu calendar) you can experience the 10 days festival to revere the God Ganesha.
At public venues huge statues will be constructed. Private houses will have their own smaller clay statues, decorate with much love and care. After two, seven or nine days, each statue will be taken to the the sea, river or lake and put back into the water. It is a busy time, schools are off and people are visting each others‘ houses to see their Ganesha or sit around public venues and chat, drinking tea and devouring the delicious sweets they make for this festival.
Goa has two World Heritage Sites: the Bom Jesus Baslica and the churches and convents of Old Goa. The basilica hosts the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, regarded by many Catholics as the patron saint of Goa.
Old Goa could be easily combined with a visit to the state capital Panjim with its old houses in portuguese style which can be only seen in Goa. If you are in Panjim you must go to Mothers Kitchen, our favourite restaurant for local goanese food.
South Goa has a lot of yoga teachers and classes running regularly during season time. Just imagine having your yoga sessions surrounded by awe-inspiring shores.
There are a couple of yoga retreats just around the corner from our house, on the way to Patnem beach.