Many people fancy South Goa as a more exotic and wonderfully laid-back cousin of its wilder, more pragmatic and cosmopolitan counterpart – North Goa. They are not misinformed. They are just under informed to only see a glimpse of this wonder-rich district.
The southern part of Goa holds within its ambit not only pristine beaches lined with swaying coconut trees and palms, but years of heritage, legacy and culture continuing in the small traditions, large gatherings, colourful festivals and the joyous music, exotic food and most importantly, its people.
To an outsider, the simple and sweet language penetrating the state may seem one, but South Goa has its own distinct Konkani dialect.
The unique, Portuguese-influenced dialect of Konkani language is the foremost quintessentially South Goan attribute. Everyday conversations in South Goa are peppered with Portuguese words and transitioned by good-humoured drawl of the Salcete dialect, Saxtti; speaking of which, South Goa rules the Khell-Tiatr scene with many tiatrists packing punches in the Saxtti dialect of Konkani, leaving their audience in splits show after show.
Homeland to Music
Following the words, comes the tune. Far from EDM parties of the North, South Goans prefer their music pure and soulful. While there are several bands belting out from retro hits to rock ‘n roll anthems, Jazz is experiencing a wave of revival across all generations of music aficionados. And while many of the Jazz bands continue to vie for a gig at best of the clubs, there are few like Francis (Jazz Kurry) recreating Jazz in its purest form – only for the passion of the musical genre. You could catch this rare, ingenious band only on Saturday evenings at Nazaré Beach Front Restaurant and Bar at ‘Beleza by the beach’ in Betalbatim – over a nice spread of authentic Goan delicacies (or scrumptious Continental & Indian dishes) and good wine.
South Goa has always been a mine of unique talent. Legendary composer and musician, Late Anthony Prabhu Gonsalves who pioneered the amalgamation of Goan heritage music with Hindustani Classical music to form a totally new genre for Bollywood – giving the tinsel town its golden age in music – was a gift of South Goa to Bollywood and to the world!
The unique blend of Goan heritage, Jazz and Classical music you will find yourself swaying to, is quintessentially South Goan.
Talking of creative arts, South Goa doesn’t disappoint when it comes to art either. While Francis Newton Souza, the world-famous outrageously contemptuous and globally celebrated artist who rendered his own interpretation of realism in painting nudes belonged to North Goa, globally loved cartoonist and painter Mario de Miranda hailed from Loutlim in South Goa.
Through his vignettes on local Goan rural life (an everyday scene in South Goa, even now) and unique style of cartooning, Mario made his kind of cartoons quintessential to South Goa.
While these legends are not amongst us now, there are many artists who continually create breathtaking art, putting their homeland on the world art map every now and then.
Next in line is the 400-years-old Our Lady of Merces Church at Colva, home to, as the legend goes, the miraculous ‘Menino (infant) Jesus’ shrine. Every year, the shrine is taken out to bless thousands of people who throng Colva during the FAMA (Fame) festival.
There are other churches and temples, too, frequented ‘religiously’ by South Goans. Piety is another quintessentially South Goan virtue!
Unlike most other parts of the country, you will still find South Goan kids making the most of an empty playground with the help of a ball and two distant goalposts, wearing complete soccer gear, under the beating sun.
With multiple small and big clubs in the district, football (or soccer) is the quintessential game of South Goa. To add new flavour and fun to the sport genre, Futsal is drawing more and more kids each year. The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Fatorda witnesses most of the action during ISL and other soccer tournaments. It is a treat to see the entire state (not just South Goans) swarming in to support the home team (FC Goa) during crucial ISL games.
From its green fields to rolling hills and balmy beaches to tolling bells, the children playing football and the musicians perfecting their notes, South Goa wonderfully disguises its persistence for excellence across various fields under the often misunderstood term, Susegado.