The Mando is a beautiful song dance performance. The theme of the Mando is usually one of love - bitter -- sweet passion melody which is slow and deliberate in movement and well expressed through the words and graceful movements of dance.

Mando is sweetly sad in its melody and very elegantly choreographed. Young men and women gracefully weave rhythmic patterns to the beat of a ghumot (mud percussion instrument) and the romantic strains of the violin. Slow and sad at the beginning, the Mando ends in the lively Dhulpod. The theme of the traditional mando is Love and romance, but of late there has been some innovation with a diversity of thematic subjects.

In their dances, the men adopt the somber-colored European suit, with its trousers, jacket and vest. But the women wear a two-piece bazu-torhop: the torhop, or sarong-like waist-cloth, the bazu or bodice, and, partly covering both, the tuvalo, or shawl. The ceremonial bazu-torhop, known as the fot, was lined with bands of silk and velvet, and embroidered with ribands or gold thread.

The Mando evidently originated in the 1830s, but its period of high achievement extends from around 1870 to 1950. It incorporates a lot features from European dances highlly popular at the time viz. - the Minuet (a French open-couple dance) and the English Contredanse. The Mando is a kind of synthesis of Minuet and Contredanse. The drama of wooing and courtship is adopted from the latter, but the 'tormenting of the body' attributed to the Contredanse by the Minuet's votaries is replaced by the Minuet's suave movements -- those of the lasya or douce manier. The Mando thus represents the mingling of Indian and Western traditions.

The thump of the gumott (pot-shaped earthenware drum) is a sign that the Mando is about to begin. Two files of dancers form, one of women, arrayed in bazu-torhops (or fots) of silk and velvet, stiff with floral patterns in gold thread; and the other of men, in dark or gray suits, a monochrome foil to the rich chroma of the women's file. The ladies usually hold fans, making their file one long flutter of white.

In the expectant silence the strains of the Mando, sad and solemn, impel the files into motion, with movements of advance, the dancer's body turning now the right, to the left, to frontal position, to three-quarter view. When almost face to face the couples retreat to their starting points, advance followed by recess, but with the same variation of figures.

The spectator's eye is entertained by varied poses in unending silhouettes, some more grave, others more graceful. Another advance soon after, with the men and the women gliding toward one another, the whole pattern of movement rounded off by a crossing and interchange of places. It is trully a beautiful spectacle.

In earlier days the Mando dance was performed usually in the evenings in celebration of weddings in the hall of an aristocrat's residence. Today public performances are limited to festivals other events.

The Mando Festival has been continuously held in Goa for over 30 years. Since the 7th year of the festivals -- in 1974 -- the Goa Cultural & Social Centre has been organising the event, annually without fail.

For more details please contact the Kala Academy.