Velips celebrate ‘Shikmo’ with gusto in forests


 The tribal Velip community who were mainly dwelling in forests or on the top of hills have still maintained their linkages with the forest and environment by celebrating Shigmo to the tune of folk musical instruments and singing melodious folk songs.
Though all over Goa, Shigmo festival begins on March 26, there is an exception to the Velips living in Cotigao and Gaodongrim areas, since, it begins from Mahashivratri, which was observed this year on March 10. Today, areas of settlement of this tribal community are at the foothills in order to get benefit of the civic amenities. But in the past, these villages were situated on the top of the hill as wishes and cares were limited, and they were happy. On the day of Mahashivratri, after taking a holy bath, on the second or third day, they erect a thatched roofed shelter with twigs of wild trees. By lighting lamps and invoking folk deities, the elders impart training to the youth in singing folk songs, performing folk dances and playing folk musical instruments.
On the seventh day of the first fortnight of the last month of the Hindu calendar, the tribals offer sweet dishes to the folk deity called 'Khute Purus'. On the second day, dishes are offered to 'Gharvai Purus'. On the third day, dishes are offered to male folk. On the fourth day, food is offered to all. This day is important as folk artists in traditional attire perform folk dances. They all are in jubilant mood. In the light of a bonfire, folk dances are performed. At midnight, troupes leave the area known as 'Deva dano' and visit villages and perform folk dances for three days. On March 25 and 26, they, by visiting door-to-door, perform folk dances in their respective villages.
Devidas Gaonkar from Badde said, "On the full moon day, our Shigmo which is known as 'Shikmo' concludes. We relish on vegetarian foods, abstain from alcohol, and celebrate the festival."
Datta Velip from Gaondongrim said, "Folk dances like Esor, Aaboli, Chaurang, Chafo, Chanipila, Shinkol and many more are performed. Today, most of these folk dances are on their way to oblivion. Shigmo festival is the exhibition of colourful facets of the cultural heritage of Velip tribal community." [TOI]