Experiencing the Goa Tribal Fest at Xeldem

You know your year is off to a great start when you get invited to a press trip for one of your favorite destinations. I had just returned from Goa after celebrating Christmas, to see a media invite for covering the Goa tribal fest in my inbox the very next day.

It just so happened that my last trip of 2016 and my first trip of 2017 was, well, to – Goa!

I am not much of a cultural traveler so experiencing this unique side of Goa was interesting, to say the least. Prior to this visit, I hadn’t even heard of the Tribal fest which was infact in its sixth year now. What a shame! I claim to love this city so much and yet I barely know what’s happening beyond the beach parties and exotic locales.

Determined to rediscover Goa, I hopped on a plane to indulge in my Goan cultural escapade.

What to expect at the Goa Tribal Fest

The prime focus of the festival is to give travelers an insight into the various lesser known tribes of Goa and their dying traditions and customs.

This is something I observed at the Big Foot museum as well – the golden era is dying and it needs to be revived. Things like building a mud house or traditional ways of cooking, will be long forgotten if we don’t practice and encourage them. We were told by the museum’s curator that they could not find a single person to build a mud house as everyone who knew the proper way to build it had passed away. After searching for months, they finally found an old man who could build it and they documented the entire process. This stuck a chord with me – our age old traditions or how our ancestors lived without all our unnecessary luxuries of the day, was so commendable and needs to be preserved.

I believe that’s what this simple festival tries to proclaim in its own small way. There is no grandeur or luxury, no fancy stuff or firecrackers to grab your attention. It is organized at a very basic, rural level and its simply some villagers showcasing their way of living. So, if that’s not your cup of tea, this is not for you, but if it is- you will love it!

Things to do at the Goa Tribal Fest

The Venue of the Goa Tribal fest

The Venue of the Goa Tribal fest

Interact with Locals

If you are a true traveler, interacting with locals, especially villagers should be high on your list. That’s the best way to know the local customs and culture. We had a hard time communicating as we didn’t know the local language and they could not speak Hindi or English but their gestures were enough. The tribal women would smile and happily even dance with anyone who was keen. They were more than happy to get pictures clicked with us and we were equally delighted at their attitude.

mat weaving

Weaving mats with Sonal of @DrifterPlanet (well, trying to)

They had small stalls where the locals would display their traditional ways of preparing items like brooms, head bands, clothing, palm leaf mats and more. Visitors are welcome to join them or learn the craft.

grinding seeds

Trying my hand at grinding seeds – the traditional way, ofcourse!

Enjoy Scrumptious Local Cuisine

If you like to experiment different food, you will simply fall in love with Goan cuisine. We enjoyed lovely home cooked traditional dishes like – Kismoor, Fish curry, Bangda fry and Prawn salad. This was one of the best lunches we had in Goa.

basic goan lunch

Our delightful, basic, traditional luncheon

Apart from that, the festival had small stalls where villagers were selling local snacks like ambil, fov, pita gulio, sanna, soji and more.

local herbal tea

Enjoying local tea which is known for its health benefits

Participate in and watch tribal games and competitions

From the fun saree wrapping competition to traditional games like guli danda, chateani etc visitors to the fest have an option to participate or watch all of these. There was a dance and drawing competition for kids going on as we entered the venue. So, there is something for everyone.

saree tying competition

Pretty locals all dressed up for the saree tying competition

Now that you know exactly what to expect and what to do at the Goa tribal fest, would you like to visit it next year? Tell me in comments below.

Disclaimer – I was invited by Goa Tourism on an all expense FAM trip to cover the #GoaTourismFest. All opinions are, as always, my own!


  1. I really want that Prawn salad!!! I love festivals that share traditions and customs to other people/cultures. Hopefully this festival will continue on the traditions and customs so that they don’t become extinct.

  2. I likewise have never heard of this but it sounds and looks fascinating. don’t you just love the way India is so full of colour?

  3. I am so fascinated with the last remaining members of indigenous tribes. We got a guide to take us through some tribal villages when we were in Laos and it was one of the most interesting travel experiences we have had to date. That’s really interesting about the mud houses too! It must have been fun to see the traditional games and dances, I love how colorful their clothing is!

  4. That’s so amazing that you were invited to cover the Goa Tribal Fest! My family is from Goa and I’d love to visit someday to get a closer look and feel of the culture. It looks like you had a wonderful time and your photos are stunning!

  5. Oh this seems super awesome. I am really interested in indigenous/native communities and would love if they could be as preserved as possible. It’s so cool you were invited to experience this and witness all the traditions. Was the food delicious?!

  6. I also had my last trip of 2016 & first of 2017 to same place! Rajasthan. 🙂
    This tribal Festival looks super cool. Didn’t know about it till now. Would love to get immersed in this festival.

  7. Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com January 26, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    It’s so refreshing to read something on Goa that isn’t about the beaches. I would really like to attend this festival as I have a small fascination with local tribes and their way of life. And the food…..I can almost taste it!

  8. I would LOVE to go. I love visiting cultural events like this. SUch a learning opportunity and so much fun.

  9. What a wonderful initiative! We love this kind of cultural travel – so authentic and the opportunity to interact with locals and experience their traditions. I too value the importance of preserving our cultural heritage, and it’s sad that the world is becoming globalized to the point that some of these cultures are starting to be forgotten and die out.

    • I agree with your Megan but I also see that soon what we do everyday will be long forgotten too and part of history/culture for future generations. Sigh, another reminder that time flies!

  10. Wow, I haven’t tried joining a press trip and this is truly interesting. I would love to experience their culture as well. I haven’t heard about this tribe yet and it actually made me curious to check and read more about them. Thank you for sharing your experiences with them.

  11. Lovely insight into the local Goan culture.

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