Legend has it that the battle-worn Parshurama had, after the Mahabharata, wanted to rest from the world and its trying ways. Not knowing where to go he let himself be guided by an arrow which he shot upwards into the sky. The arrow arched across the skies and beyond the land to fall into the Arabian Sea. But Parshurama's dream was not so easily to be drowned, for Sagara the Sea God understanding his desire, stepped back to create an idyllic land. This then is Goa, the Golden calm.
Goa's history stretches back to the third century BC, when it formed a part of the Mauryan empire. Later, at the beginning of the Christian era, it was ruled by the Satavahanas of Kolhapur. Control eventually passed to the Chalukyans of Badami, who ruled from 580 to 750 A.D. Goa fell to the Muslims for the first time in 1312, but the invaders were forced out in 1370 by Harihara I of the Vijayanagar empire. Over the next 100 years, Goa's harbours were important landing places for ships carrying Arabian horses to the Vijayanagar cavalry at Hampi.
Blessed as it is with natural harbours and wide rivers, Goa was the ideal base for the seafaring Portuguese, who arrived in 1510. The Portuguese brought to Goa the magnificence of the West and the might of a nation at the height of its imperial power. At its peak Goa was one of the wonders of the world, larger than Lisbon and even the London of its time! Goa resembled the 'meeting upon the burse in Antwerp' wrote Linschoten, the Dutchman, and it was then that epithets like 'Rome of the East' and 'Pearl of the Orient' were coined. The Portuguese aimed to control the spice route from the East and had a strong desire to spread Christianity. Jesuit missionaries, led by St. Francis Xavier, arrived in 1542. By the middle of the sixteenth century, Portuguese control had expanded beyond Old Goa to include the provinces of Bardez and Salcette.
Goa's golden age came with the eventual ousting of the Turks, who controlled the trade route across the Indian Ocean, and the resultant fortunes made from the spice trade. The colony became the viceregal seat of the Portuguese empire of the east, which included various East African port cities, east Timor and Macau. But competition from the British, French and Dutch in the seventeenth century, combined with Portugal's inability to adequately service it's far-flung empire, led to a decline. The Marathas almost vanquished the Portuguese in the late 18th century, and there was a brief occupation by the British during the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. However, the Portuguese clung on till 1961, when they were finally ejected by India.
One of Goa's most discerning assets is its rich cultural heritage. Music, dance and folklore are deeply rooted in the heart of Goans, and the rhythm runs in the blood of the people of Goa.
Goan folklore, which comprises folk songs, dances , music, visual art and folk tales, are rich in content and variety. The folk music has devotional as well contemporary overtones, and it displays a lively rhythm and the folk dances reflect that rhythmic vitality.
Folk songs and dances are accompanied by a variety of instruments such as ghumot, dhol, cymbals, flutes, harmonium, violins and guitars.
Ghode Modni, Mando, Dekhni, Goff, Talgadi, Tonyamel, Dhangar dance, Mussal khel, Jagor, Suvari, fugdi and dhalo, lamp dance, veerbhadra and kunbi songs and dances are some of the popular folk dances of Goa, and are best performed during local festivals in their respective villages.