‘Ghodemodni’ is a dance form wherein ancient legends of bravery are reenacted. In this dance form, the dancer wears warrior attire over a dummy horse frame along with a sword in one hand as he begins to dance. 

This dance is performed generally at the time of the Hindu festival: ‘Shigmo’. The most common facet of this festival, which celebrates the harvest season, is the folk dances which are especially performed during this time.‘Ghodemodni’ is one such dance. But according to Pundalik Sawant, there are other reasons to perform it as well.

Pundalik Sawant (leader of the dance group): “Our village was once captured by a king after a battle. This dance portrays that war.”

The ‘Ghodemodni’ is a warrior dance that commences with the declaration of war at the village border. Dancers used to march to the border and return waving a piece of cloth. However today waving a cloth no longer forms part of this dance. 

Pundalik Sawant: “Many years back when ‘Ghodemodni’ was performed, one person used to stand behind the horse holding a white cloth, about 1.5 metres in length. This he threw into the air, catching it as it fell, repeating it every two or three steps of the way.
Now, however it has ceased, as the man who used to throw this cloth is no longer in the village.”

The masquerading dancers wear ornaments and are decked with flowers and wield a sword in their hand. The masks made of wood are considered holy and are kept in a safe place after the dance is over. People lift it only when they have to dance the ‘Ghodemodni’. Made from bamboo, the frames of the dummy horse are hidden from view by a white cloth and flowers. 

The traditional musical instruments are played in accompaniment to the ‘Ghodemodni’. The ‘taaso’ is a drum whose base is made from either brass or copper. The top portion is covered with the skin of a goat. The skill of the musicians bring about a variation in rhythm and sound.

According to historians, the dance came to Goa, along with a wave of people who migrated from northern parts of India and this theory is reinforced by the ‘Rajput’ styled costumes worn by the dancers.

Pundalik Sawant:We the Sawant family originated from Chittorgarh. We then resided at Vaturne before coming to Goa. Our family’s deity is ‘Bhavani’ of Chittorgarh. Since ‘rajputs’ are from Chittorgarh, I feel that ‘Ghodemodni’ originated in Chittorgarh (Rajastan). “

Villagers say that dancing the ‘Ghodemodni’ wards off thieves from attacking the village. They talk of how once in the past, robbers ran away after the dance was performed.
A few days before the ritualistic dance of the ‘Ghodemodni’, the younger lot have great fun playing a game of ‘chors’ (robbers).

 Pundalik Sawant: “For the ‘Holi’ festival we burn a pyre on the 1st day. The following day is the ‘guardian holi’ and that evening some persons impersonate thieves, who go into the orchards and steal fruits, etc.

Young boys go and steal cashew nuts, from the hill. Sometimes people even give them about a kilo of cashew nuts when they come.”

 If we begin to choreograph the ‘Ghodemodni’ steps, then the next generation will copy it, and the original dance form will be lost so will our culture. That is the reason we did not choreograph it.”

With flags in their hands, accompanied by festive paraphernalia and royal music, the march of the legion of dancers is a demonstration of their strength and valour to their foes. It is a matter of pride to all the people. The ‘Ghodemodni’ marks the victorious return of the warriors after having bravely fought the enemy forces. 

Go back to Traditional Dances of Goa

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