Ever heard of Goa Tribal Festival? No, it’s not a psytrance party but a festival that involves REAL tribes of Goa. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you must be aware that San and I were volunteering in Goa and living here for a few months. In fact, I often call Goa my second home because I have visited it more than 20 times, but I never got an opportunity to meet Goa’s tribes.

Anyway, so talking about Goa Tribal Festival, are you must be wondering what it is all about, so here’s the basic info you need to know before I tell you what I did here:

What is Goa Tribal Festival?

A food stall at Goa Tribal Festival

A food stall at Goa Tribal Festival

Goa Tribal Festival is an initiative by the local villagers to spread the awareness about Goa’s unique culture, heritage and core. To be specific, the community that took the initiative to organize this two day festival is the Adivasi Sangatna of Quepem village. The idea is to preserve and celebrate Goa’s age old traditions, which are not just limited to food or but also craftsmanship, games, folklores and more!

Many of us have visited Goa many times and spent most of our time on beaches and parties, but how many of us ever got a taste of Goa’s old culture? I hardly ever did! And no, Goa’s old culture is not just limited to Old Goa’s churches and Portuguese influences, but is so much more. It’s got a lot to do with Goa’s oldest communities, which I got to meet at Goa Tribal Festival.

Where is Goa Tribal Festival Celebrated?

The 2017 edition of this festival, where I went was held at Village Panchayat Ground, Xeldem. Xeldem is in Quepem, which is in South Goa. Yes, Quepem is where the famous Goa Carnival is also celebrated. If you get a chance, do visit it because it is on the banks of Kushawati river and is scenic.

When is Goa Tribal Festival Celebrated?

It is usually celebrated in the beginning of the year. I went for the sixth edition, which was on January 7th – 8th 2017.

My day at Goa Tribal Festival

Ok, enough about the facts but I’m dying to tell you about my day here. After an amazing breakfast at Miramar Residency, we started our journey to Xeldem for the festival. I’m not a fan of Miramar and it’s my least favorite beach in North Goa, but the area around it is very crowded. However, the drive from here to Quepem is really beautiful. For many kilometers we could only see lush rice paddies. Everything around us was very green.

First Impressions

An hour later, we were in Xeldom. It was time to enter the festival! Let me be honest, I was expecting an overly crowded area like a Diwali mela or something like a Goan flea market but as I stepped out of the car, I felt I had gone back in time. I saw a spacious ground with a lot of room to move around. An elevated area was set up, with many chairs around it – like an old fashioned stage.

The Stalls

Villagers crafting new things at Goa Tribal Festival

Villagers crafting new things at Goa Tribal Festival

Around the stage were a few stalls and behind the stalls which were made with bamboo and coconut leaves – very old school and charming! Yes, this is the first area that caught my interest. Believe it or not, I must have taken 20-30 rounds of this area to sink as much details as I could. Most of these stalls were being handled by local women from various tribes. Some of these stalls were food related and the others were the ones where the tribes were crafting new things such as mats, brooms, flower tiaras, etc. I got to witness how they meticulously crafted these items with palm leafs and paddy grass.

The People

A beautiful tribal woman at Goa Tribal Festival

A beautiful tribal woman at Goa Tribal Festival

The women behind the stalls wore beautiful red sarees with puffed sleeves blouses, which were draped a tad higher when compared to the rest of India.  They all had flowers in their hair and smiles on their faces – the real hippies!

Beautiful Young Women at Goa Tribal Festiva

Beautiful Young Women at Goa Tribal Festiva

I also saw groups of younger women and children that were moving from stalls to stalls – all traditionally attired.

Beautiful Children at Goa Tribal Festival

Beautiful Children at Goa Tribal Festival

The Age Old Apparatuses

Using old instruments at Goa Tribal Festival
A few tribal women using traditional methods for grinding at Goa Tribal Festival
A traditional appratus for making food

As I moved from stalls to stall, I noticed their traditional methods of food preparation. Some of the apparatuses that they were using looked like they were right out of a museum. (To be honest, we did see some of these apparatuses in Big Foot museum and Chitra museum – both in Goa. It was interesting to see that these instruments were still in use.

The Food

Ever heard of ambil? Well, I had not and I got to try it here. It is a kind of porridge which is sweetened by jaggery sugar. I also got to try other things like san’na, soji, pez, chirke manda, shevyo, and pita gulio. Most of these things were just priced at INR 10 or INR 5. Unbelievable!

Fried Fish and Salad at Goa Tribal Festival

Fried Fish and Salad at Goa Tribal Festival

At lunch time, we had a buffet style meal which had rice, salad, fish and one of the most delicious Goan prawn curries that I ever got to taste. The curry was mildly flavored with coconut and was comforting. Yum! Yes, I took a second helping.

The Activities & Performances

Local Children Drawing at Goa Tribal Festival

Local Children Drawing at Goa Tribal Festival

There were many little competitions and games for children and adolescents such as drawing, guli danda, saree draping and more. There were dance and song performances as well where children dressed up in traditional clothes and won our hearts!

Amazing dance performances at Goa Tribal Festival

Amazing dance performances at Goa Tribal Festival

Do you love Goa as much as I do? Then let’s revive its oldest traditions by spreading awareness about them. Share this post with your friends and family, so that they can also visit Goa Tribal festival and time travel to Goa’s past.

Disclaimer: I was invited to Goa for the 6th annual Goa Tribal Festival by Goa Tourism on a press trip, but like always, all thoughts are my own.

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