Canacona was one of the last territories which were taken over by the Portuguese in Goa. Owing to this reason, the people here are much more rooted to their past traditions.

The Goff is a dance which has interesting formations. A lady holding a plate called “talli” takes her place near the courtyard. A member of the dance group comes forward and takes the talli from her. The dancer is welcomed as his feet are washed and cumcum is applied. After this, the dancer goes back to his group and dances with the talli.

Dr. Pandurang Phaldesai: “The man receives blessings from the woman, with which he goes and joins the whole group of dancers and after dancing, while leaving the place the whole group bless the lady and the household.”

 To begin with, a “matov” , or a temporary roof is erected with a bundle of six to  twelve ropes suspended from it. The dancer holds a napkin which is called as ‘toni’ in the right hand, while with the left hand holds a rope which hangs from the suspended canopy. The Goff sequence can be ideally divided into two parts. In the first part, the dancers make a braided pattern with these ropes. These are unbraided during the second half of the dance wherein the dancers move in the opposite direction from which they were dancing during the first part.

Like many other dances, Goff is also performed during Shigmo festival – a festival exclusively danced by men with the presence of a single woman who initiates the ritual. Conversely in the dhalo festival, only women can dance having a single men present to begin the ritual. 

 The musical instruments providing the rhythm for the goff is the ghumat, shenai, dhol, taaso and zaghant. At times, even the harmonium and a tabla are used.

The dancers as they go about their act sing songs dedicated to Lord Krishna. At times popular songs are sung too. While dancing, there is no room for mistakes as it could result in the rope weaving going topsy turvy. It takes a great deal of concentration to weave the ropes attached to the canopy. And it takes equal amounts of attention to detail when the dancers have to unbraid the ropes but what is the meaning of this intricate dance?

Dr. Pandurang Phaldesai: “The Indian culture, is a singular culture, and this message is best relay through Goff.

Every rope is of a different colour, and represents the culture of each Indian state, the different religions, which when entwined and breaded together form a rope that represents the multicultural ‘goff of India’.If they want to show their own identity then they disperse from goff and show it. Same way they have identity being Indian.”

To these dances many other could be added but what one should remember is that, even though many of these traditional folk dances can be seen during the Shigmo parade in the cities, others are fast disappearing.

Folk heritage is a prism into the lives of how our ancestors lived- a way of life which was greatly minimalist and yet at the same time highly satisfying. The call to save our traditions has been sounded and the time to act is now.

It is up to the new generation to maintain it.

Go back to Traditional Dances of Goa

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