The Goa government on Friday announced that the highly anticipated Shigmo festival parade in the state stands canceled this year due to rising COVID-19 cases, but the Shigmo Artists across the state are not at all happy with the decision as according to them they have spent huge money on the preparations and they would be facing a huge loss due to the last moment decision of Government.
In reply to MGP MLA Sudin Dhavalikar who raised the question of whether the state government is going ahead with the annual float parades, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant announced to the State Legislative Assembly Session that the decision to cancel the Shigmo parades has been taken to avoid further spread of the COVID-19 infection and that artists would be compensated.
Chief Minister further said that the traditional Shigmo festivities in the temples would be allowed to be continued but the hosts should abide by the COVID-19 restrictions.
Shigmo is the celebration of a rich, golden harvest of paddy. Agricultural communities celebrate the festival that also marks the onset of spring in the month of April. The state tourism department hosts Shigmo Float parades in the major cities of the state along with the Carnival festivities.
While the last year’s Shigmo parades were not held amidst rising concerns, the state government had planned to allow Shigmo festivities this year, with the celebrations limited to parades in three locations – Panaji, Ponda, and Mapusa.
But the Carnival held in February saw hundreds gather on the street, paying no heed to social distancing or other safety protocols, the rising numbers of active cases in the state, like in many parts of the country, has made the government rethink its decision.
On the other hand, Shigmo artistes across the Ponda taluka have claimed a major loss due to the last moment decision by the government, and demanded clarity on the government decision and the nature of the compensation that would be provided to the artists.
“We understand the rise in COVID 19 cases in the state, but cancellation of the parades can’t be a solution for it. The government has allowed all other activities like parties, tourism activities, wedding ceremonies, and even casinos to run as normal, then why only Shigmo parades are being canceled?” asked Kisan Adpaikar, a Shigmo parade artist.
Expressing displeasure over the government’s decision to cancel the Shigmotsav parades in the state owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shigmo artistes also urged the state government to compensate them within a month’s time by inspecting their artwork. The artists revealed that many float artists and Romtamel groups haven’t received even their last year’s prize money yet.
“Procedure that would be followed to compensate the artistes and its basis should be cleared by Chief Minister in the assembly itself. Otherwise, like every other assurance, compensation assurance should not be forgotten after the assembly session,” artists said.
Artistes claimed that more than fifty groups are professionally involved in the Shigmo parades with each group spending lakhs of rupees on the preparation of floats, romtamell, and folk dance. Besides money, people also invest their time – spend months doing practice. In such a situation, cancellation of the Shigmo parades at the last moment is a major setback for us, said an artiste.
Meanwhile, despite the government announcement about the cancellation of Shigmotsav parades, Ponda Shigmotsav Committee members, in a formation of a romtamel, paid a visit to Goddess Mahalasa Narayani at Mardol, on Friday, and sought the blessing of the deity. Committee members including the PMC chairperson Vishwanath Dalvi, CO Pradeep Naik, several other PMC councilors, and members took part in the romtamel.