With India in political news, we asked a blogger in India to introduce us to what a typical Indian beach community has to offer. Here is the first story.
“India has won. Good days lie ahead”. Those were the words of landslide election victor Narendra Modi and his party, indicating that there is a new wind blowing in India. Several weeks ago we were asked by Indian blogger/designer Ramya Raju, if she could write stories for Search Amelia.
Normally we are quite reluctant following up with these proposals but the fact that SearchAmelia has quite a following and ranking in India, made us look at some of her work and decided to have her write and submit an introductory story about one of India’s famous beach locations.
After reading her script I admit, I felt compelled to get a better look at what seems to be a fabulous travel destination that has a lot to offer and found myself spending several hours on the internet learning about this place. And that’s all a good story needs to do in my book: entice someone to learn more about the topic.
Maybe we should have asked her to write an on-the-ground story about the elections, but I have to admit that, notwithstanding the much needed change in Indian politics (both the markets and currency instantly went up today) I’m now slightly obsessed by learning about the Goa province which is often referred to as the “Pearl of the Orient” or “Rome of the East”.
Goa – Life in an Indian Beach Community by Ramya Raju
This tourist heaven on the western coast, Konkan belt of India has flourished over the years. It is known for its natural beauty as well as architectural gems seen in the form of temples, churches and old homes. Little wonder then that it’s been hugely popular with travelers from all over the world. Goa in many ways is defined by Portuguese colonization and it’s reflected splendidly in the churches you see here. In fact one of the major aims of Vasco Da Gama’s mission to India was to “seek Christians and spices”.
History of Goa People of Goa have their unique identity although the state borders Sahyadri Ranges and the tidal rivers cross boundaries. And that’s because the state was isolated from the rest of the country for almost four centuries under Portuguese rule. The thing one needs to understand about the locals is that they prefer to call themselves Goans and not Goanese as it’s often assumed and wrongly stated in guide books too. The locals are very proud of their identity and guard it dearly. The population of Goa is around 1.4 million. Konkani and Marathi are the two major languages spoken here while the National language, Hindi is well understood. People also widely speak English which is a part of everyday conversations for many. The state is also called Gomantak although there’s a lot of haze surrounding its history. Gomantak, its Sanskrit name finds a mention in the later Vedic period (c.1000-500 BC) when the Hindu epic Mahabharata was written. The Sanskrit name has many meanings but it is probably derived from “fertile land”.
Goa Places Panaji is the capital of the state and the government seat of North Goa district. It’s a beautiful city on the banks of Mandovi River and is known for its old Latin style homes with red roofs. There are many modern homes with big gardens today and many avenues are lined with trees like Gulmohar and Acassia. Altinho (Hill top) offers a stunning panoramic view of the city.
Beaches Goa beaches are popular with travelers from all over the world because they have a sense of adventure you won’t find anywhere else in the country. They also have all the amenities you could want for. In fact for many travelers, Goa is synonymous with its beaches. You can taste different types of cuisines, especially the scrumptious local seafood fare, sun bathe and swim in stunning blue waters when you are on the beach. You can also indulge in adventure sports by partaking in activities like water skiing and paragliding. The most popular beach is Calangute Beach, which attracts many foreign visitors.
Nature and Quality of Life In the February 1999 issue of National Geographic Magazine, Goa was compared with the Amazon and Congo basins for its rich tropical biodiversity. Goa is India’s richest state with a GDP per capita two and a half times that of the country as a whole. It was ranked the best placed state by the Eleventh Finance Commission for its infrastructure and ranked Number 1 for the best quality of life in India by the National Commission on Population.
Destinations Over four centuries of Portuguese rule and many rulers before that has meant the place has imbibed different cultures and held them close to its bosom. Hence it’s not difficult to see different influences including Indian and Western being a part of the local culture, lifestyle and architecture as well. There are several traditions that have been followed through ages. The cultural heritage of Goa has evolved to a large extent because it has managed to absorb congenial features of foreign cultures. The Latin and local cultural strains have worked symbiotically here.
Cuisine It’s often understood that if you come to Goa you won’t look beyond seafood, rice and Feni. Feni (sometimes spelt fenny or fenim) is a spirit produced exclusively in Goa, India. There are two types of Feni; cashew feni and coconut feni. Fish, curry, rice can be the three basic necessities for many Goans. They can be the delicious daily meal in many households. But like everything else in Goa the cuisine is quite varied and has several hidden gems that you can explore when you visit the place.
Art and Culture Many artistes and craftsmen have made Goa their home and you will see their aesthetic impression all over the state. Classical arts have been a stronghold of the state for many years and you will find that Goans have done well in poetry, music and fine arts. Teak furniture, the terracotta figurines, stunning rosewood carvings, gorgeous brass items and priceless gold jewelry ensure that the charm of an age gone by is still held intact in today’s technology driven world. The folk dances in Goa are quite a visual treat and in many ways they are the perfect representation of the local culture and traditions. Shigmo, Fugdi, Dhalo, Dekhni are some of the popular dance forms in the state.
Fairs and Festivals The majority of population in the state is Hindu, which only means that several festivals are celebrated here all through the year. These festivals have held their charm even after the Portuguese colonization and they get still celebrated with great fervor today. Since these festivals follow the Hindu calendar, you don’t have a fixed date for them every year.
Closing Goa is considered to be a place that’s tolerant to people of all religious beliefs. The locals believe they are Goans first and Hindus, Muslims or Christians later. In spite of different religions, this unique identity is what holds them together and ensures that peaceful coexistence is possible. The locals are also known to celebrate life and have a laidback kind of attitude towards it. Music, dance and art are passions for people living here who also like to gorge on delicious food and have a taste for Feni. These are just some of the reasons why going to Goa feels like a homecoming every time.
by Ramya Raju
Ramya Raju is a freelance writer/web designer from India with about 8 years experience in content writing, gained by writing for top blogs and websites. She’s a self proclaimed extrovert whose interests are photography, anthropology and traveling to different countries to learn about the culture and art of living of the local inhabitants. She can be reached by E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.englishcourses.pro/courses/business-english-courses/