Goa has a history of communal harmony, but is mainly split between Christianity and Hinduism.
The most popular celebrations in the Indian state of Goa are Ganesh Chaturthi (Konkani: Chavoth), Diwali, Christmas (Konkani: Natalam), Easter (Konkani: Paskanchem Fest), Samvatsar Padvo or Sanvsar Padvo, Shigmo, Goa Carnival, (Konkani: Carnaval or Intruz) Sao Jao (Feast of John the Baptist) and the biggest feast, Feast of St. Francis Xavier (Goicho Saib). Goa is also known for its New Year’s celebrations. The Goan Carnival is known to attract a large number of tourists.
Rice with fish curry (Xit kodi in Konkani) is the staple diet in Goa. Goan cuisine is renowned for its rich variety of fish dishes cooked with elaborate recipes. Coconut and coconut oil is widely used in Goan cooking along with chili peppers, spices and vinegar giving the food a unique flavour. Pork dishes such as Vindaloo, Xacuti and Sorpotel are cooked for major occasions among the Catholics. An exotic Goan vegetable stew, known as Khatkhate, is a very popular dish during the celebrations of festivals, Hindu and Christian alike. Khatkhate contains at least five vegetables, fresh coconut, and special Goan spices that add to the aroma. A rich egg-based multi-layered sweet dish known as bebinca is a favourite at Christmas. The most popular alcoholic beverage in Goa is feni; Cashew feni is made from the fermentation of the fruit of the cashew tree, while coconut feni is made from the sap of toddy palms.
Goa has two World Heritage Sites: the Bom Jesus Basilica and a few designated convents. The Basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, regarded by many Catholics as the patron saint of Goa (the patron of the Archdiocese of Goa is actually St.Joseph Vaz). Once every ten years, the body is taken down for veneration and for public viewing. The last such event was conducted in 2004. The Velhas Conquistas regions are also known for its Goa-Portuguese style architecture.
In many parts of Goa, mansions constructed in the Indo-Portuguese style architecture still stand, though in some villages, most of them are in a dilapidated condition. Fontainhas in Panaji has been declared a cultural quarter, showcasing the life, architecture and culture of Goa. Some influences from the Portuguese era are visible in some of Goa’s temples, notably the Mangueshi Temple, although after 1961, many of these were demolished and reconstructed in the indigenous Indian style.
Football is the most popular sport in Goa, followed by hockey. Cricket, athletics, chess, swimming, table tennis and basketball are other popular sports in Goa. Fishing is also a popular recreational activity.
Mando and dulpod are traditional goan musical forms.
Goan Hindus are very fond of Natak, Bhajan and Kirtan. Many famous Indian Classical singers hail from Goa, such as, Kishori Amonkar, Kesarbai Kerkar, Jitendra Abhisheki, Prabhakar Karekar.
Many Goans also perform Western classical music
Some traditional Goan dance forms are dekhnni, fugdi, corridinho and dashavatara. Western social dancing is a part of most celebrations.
Main article: Tourism in Goa
Goa developed an international reputation in the 1960s as one of the prime stops on the legendary India-Nepal “hippie trail”. In the mid-1960s, several Westerners, including “Eight Finger Eddie” walked over the hill to Calangute, and decided to create a community for Westerners. In the early years, Calangute and Baga were the center of this scene, but it grew over the years to include other nearby cities like Anjuna Beach, which became, and arguably still is, the center of the Western youth culture of Goa. By the mid-1980s, there were over 8000 Westerners living in Goa, mostly from Western Europe. The scene was marked by drug culture, trance music and free love. Goa remains today an international center of youth culture.
Starting in the late 1990s, Goa began to attract a more “upscale” audience, which in turn drove prices up, which in turn drove many in the “hippie” community to other less-expensive areas. Arambol—the beach community furthest away from “civilization”, like electricity and running water—became the center of a battle between those wanting to turn Goa into a more traditional upscale resort area, and those wanting Goa to retain its traditional rustic counterculture appeal.
Goans are very fond of theatre and acting. Kalo and dashavatar were popular art forms. Marathi Nataks have been very popular among Hindus in Goa for the past two centuries. Tiatr is the major Goan form of theatre common amongst Catholics and is the most commercial offering as it has entertained Goans not only in Goa but also in Mumbai and Pune (which are major cities of India and have a sizeable Goan population) and in the Gulf regions of UAE, Kuwait and so on.