A medley of prayers, songs, sketches and dances from different religions employing a myriad of linguistic traditions, the Zagor Festival exudes a truly secular aura. Recalling the Portuguese occupation, this annual ritual is celebrated in several villages in Goa, such as Anjuna, Nageshi and Siolim. Let’s explore more of this complex yet entertaining drama which is usually played to the beat of Ghumot and is an important part of Goa lore.
Theatrical performance complemented by a special menu
The word ‘zagor’ means to keep a night vigil to please God, who is also hailed as the protector of villages and people in other parts of India know this practice as jagran. However, the difference between the Zagor festival of Goa and jagran is that the first is celebrated by the farming community to protect their crop from flooding and destruction.
Zagor begins with prayers performed at mandate, a sacred place in the village where the popular deity is invited to bestow his blessings. Then a torchlight procession called suari, walks to the stage where devotional songs are sung by the artists before the start of theatrical activities. After the climax of all performances, participants and the audience are treated to a specially prepared menu that includes sanna– spongy and salty rice cakes.
Importance of Zagor
According to legend, Zagor and similar folk dramas were important in upholding the spiritual values of traditional Goan society and were also a means of entertainment. Even today, it acts as an indispensable social glue, as Zagor’s performances attract residents and tourists.
Considered a predecessor of modern Goa theater, Zagor is a perfect blend of everyday divine and worldly anecdotes and mythologies alongside prayers and laughter. Make sure you get an authentic experience of this cultural side of Goa when you have the chance to visit the coastal state after the pandemic!