Step anywhere in Goa and the rhythm of music is bound to strike your ears. It runs in the blood of every Goan. They were so rooted and in tune with nature that each folk song became a chant to the heavens above. It is with this rhythm that Goans live their life, but how did it all begin?

For centuries the lives of the men and women of Goa was as simple as this. Since then, much has changed and life is no longer simple.

Ancestral influences still have a bearing on the present. To understand them, we have to look back. Those long and hard days toiling in the fields, inspired many a song and created a kaleidoscope of dances that today formed part of Goa's heritage.

Even though Goa is a very small state we see a varied topography in each taluka. In Pernem taluka where we find plains, fields, small hillocks, beaches and small rivulets.Pernem taluka has a rich cultural heritage and one of the main elements of the cultural heritage are the folk dances.

Dr. Pandurang Phaldesai: “There are two major festivals: one is Shigmo and the other is dhalo. Fugdi is part of Dhalo festival.”

Fugdi is a dance whose participants are only women. Before dancing, they light a lamp before the “tulsi vrindavan” and invoke the deities to come to the “maand”. The invocation is followed by the singing of verses which speaks of how the deities agree to descend to the place, bringing along with them, blessings of vermillion, flowers,  bangles and a sari for the women. The gods also assure them that they will have a happy union with their husbands.

The Kalshi fugdi is probably an offshoot of the fugdi. The tapping of the bangle laden hands against the copper vessels known as kalshi in Konkani is a “must see” for any visitor to this state.

Dr. Pandurang Phaldesai: Here, the water pitcher is a symbol of womb and they blow into it; give it life.

The pot was an inseparable part of the daily village routine. Used to water the vegetables and collect water for domestic purposes, the Kalshi came to occupy an important part of their lives.

The story of how the Kalshi fugdi came about goes back to the time when women covered huge distances, to fetch water. This ardours journey was made bearable and enjoyable as the idea of mixing fun with work caught on. With a pot in hand, they probably devised a dance sequence, which today is known as the Kalshi fugdi.

Manisha Naik (women of the hindu community):Our elders used to tell us not to keep the pitcher empty; always keep it filled. So we questioned our mother as to why so. She replied that her parents had told her too. The pitcher should always be kept filled as the goddess Laxmi would visit each home after night falls and after doing the chores in the house, slates her thirst from the water pitcher before leaving.

To understand the fugdi better as a dance routine you have to be familiar with the folk life of the people. The dance formations include actions of washing clothes and  glimpses into the lives of the women. The typical pattern is two women holding each other’s hands and spinning their bodies’ around which looks like a spinning top from an aerial view.

The Fugdi follows a quick rhythm with dancers generally forming circular movements.  As the rhythms reach its crescendo, the dancers blow air through their mouth and produce the sound ‘foo’- the origin of the “fu” in “fugdi”.

In another taluka, Cancona taluka, we found a community that also dances the fugdi: The Velip Community.

The Velip community sustain themselves mainly on an agrarian lifestyle. Concentrated mostly in remote areas of Goa, the Velips can proudly boast of setting a fine example of living eco-friendly and self-sustainable lives. The harmony which they share with their environs is a lesson, urban man can learn from.

The steps of the Velip folk dances are enacted from chores of their daily life. The Fugdi of the Velips differ only in the depiction of the tasks that they do. Being forest dwellers and agriculturists, their folk dances reflect this nomadic lifestyle.

Yet, in another taluka, Quepem taluka, we found a third community that also dances the fugdi: The Christian community!

Weather belonging to the Hindu or Christian community, the women usually performs the fugdi around harvest time. Monica, as a child watched the older women in her community dance the fugdi. The steps, songs and formations are firmly imprinted in her mind.

Monica Fernandes (women of the gawda community): “Our ancestors used to perform this when we were young. As children we stood in a line and watch them performed and then memorized the steps.”

While the Hindu counterparts use colourful sarees, the Christian used a chequered red saree with a knot being tied on the right shoulder. A white dupata is tied around the waist.Since they performed the fugdi as part of their daily routine, these clothes were used not only for work but also to dance.

Monica Fernandes: “We used to go to dance, after a work day in the same work clothes. Nobody wore any special outfit. Now we change into an outfit when we have to dance. Earlier it was not so.”

All the folk dances used to be performed at the maand. Being a community spot, had no religious significance attached to it.

Adv. John Fernandes: “This place was basically the village center. The festivals and folk dances (like dhalo, zagor, or Intruz) were all performed here on the maand.”

The fugdi actually began as an impromptu dance of the women who interspersed the work of their daily life with moments of gaiety.  The fugdi is just one of Goa’s pearls in its priceless collection. It is one dance which has music comprising of words and beats that do not need any accompanying musical instrument but relies solely on the sounds and rhythms created by the dancers.  

Go back to Traditional Dances of Goa

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