Updated: May 26, 2019
India is a land with rich traditions and cultures. Every state is unique in its customs that one must visit the festivals in person to experience it for themselves. Diversity in music, art, dance, culinary practices, beliefs etc would take a lifetime to explore one at a time. The Serendipity Arts foundation, based in New Delhi organizes a yearly event called ‘Serendipity Arts Festival’ at Goa. The primary aim of providing an opportunity for the various Arts to be exhibited at one location. This year 2018 the festival stretched over 8 days across 10 venues in North Goa with more than 90 projects taking place. Visual art, Culinary arts, Theater, Craft, Music, Dance and Photography were scattered around in the form of displays, workshops and events. I loved the fact that on one hand I could be a silent spectator at some events and I could choose to immerse myself by taking part in others.
There was an extensive range of enthralling music, theater, comedy and dance performances which made me realize what a talented race we Indians are. The Curioso Art workshop for example gave an opportunity to the interested to try out various forms of art such as fluid painting, block painting, hand lettering, doodling and many more. Just running through the schedule was a challenge as there were so many events running simultaneously in and around Panjim. I had to make a separate schedule for myself so that I could attend the events of my interest. There was energy bubbling all over as people were running around having a taste of different projects.
Fortunately, I made it in time to attend a few events. It gave me an opportunity to explore new activities. I've never tried my hand at Art apart from pencil sketching. This made me keen on giving a shot at the art workshops. Out of the many, I decided to go for one that would require minimum talent and would give an amazing result. Fluid art painting. We were given a blank white canvas and a dozen colors to choose from. First we had to apply a white liquid and spread it around the whole canvas which would be the base. Next, we had to pour 3 strong colors into a small cup. From here on there weren't any instructions. Pour, spray, splatter, drop, squirt and go crazy. Do as you please and manipulate the flowing paint until you're satisfied. Once you're done, you leave it to dry for 24 hours after which you can collect it as your souvenir.
Coming to the Culinary Arts, there were a bunch of workshops out of which Coffee Roasting, Wine tasting, Feni blending, Beer crafting and Assamese Pickling were the ones that caught my interest. Little did I know that there were dozens of people also looking to take part. On arriving on time for the sessions, I realized that there were people waiting for hours to get in. This brought a system of registration that opened an hour before the session commenced. I learnt this the hard way and missed the roasted coffee and crafted beer event. I was determined to attend the remaining. At the wine tasting, there was an Australian guest by name Craig who represented the brand Fratelli. He began with the history of wine in India and how the standards have gone up over the years. Now, it is comparable to the wine imported from other countries. To our good luck, the volunteers served us generous quantities of each wine. When Craig noticed he said “Buddy! Chota chota” which means small small in Hindi. The session was entertaining and enjoyable and increased as the wine bottles ran dry.
Food workshops gave a new perspective of using my senses to the best. The spice lab for example had a collection of all the major spices(mustard, cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, onion seeds, raw mango powder, turmeric, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds and leaves, star anise, chillies) used in Indian Food. They were on display and you could make your own combination of spices by grinding the ingredients of your choice in a mortar. There would be guidance on preparing a good masala if you feel lost. Once crushed, you can take away your creation in a glass test tube and try it out at home. The strong aroma of the spice blend fills the air with every crushing. As a result, you experience a nasal orgasm every other minute.
Another food workshop that I loved was on Assamese Pickles. Ms Monaliz and Mr Sourav took us around the North East of India with their presentation. As the presentation progressed, local pickle ingredients we're passed around for tasting. Monaliz prepared pork pickle and Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Chilli) pickle live and then gave us a taste. I tried every sample and the most exotic was smoked Bison pickle. It was a treat to my taste buds and a punishment to my nasal cavities. No regrets at all!
Some of the Bands did put on a dedicated show for a few hours in the art park during the day. Beyond dusk there were unique musical performances on every day. Drumming varieties, creative music by the curators and also a Coke studio session took place on the last day. The environment felt nothing short of a concert. Amazing sound arrangements, flashy lighting and huge LED screens together enhanced the experience of Indian music on the big stage.
I highly recommend that you make it a point to be there in Goa during this exhilarating festival. The arrangements and planning were meticulous. There was no worry of food, transport or information of the events. Another amazing perk is that REGISTRATION WAS FREE. From the workshops to the special events and concerts, not one Rupee was charged. Just the comedy event had a nominal fee of Rs 100 per head. Other than that, one could have all the experience at no cost.
A few tips in case you wish to attend the festival next year:
Register online and get your hands on the event schedule along with the guide. Note down the events of your interest and plan accordingly. Lot of events overlap making it a impossible to attend everything. Prioritize so you don't miss out on the good stuff.
Enquire registration details with the volunteers one day or in the worst case one hour before an event. Limited seated workshops and shows fill up pretty quick. Especially workshops that involve food and alcohol tasting.
Some registrations can be given online via Google forms. Online registration is given a higher preference over spot registrations. Contact volunteers for more details in advance.
Food stalls are available at all the venues. The prices are about 20% higher than what it would be outside.