Things to know about Goa
Goa's state language is Konkani. Most Goans speak Konkani, English, Hindi, and Marathi. Portuguese is also known by a small segment, especially the elite and earlier privileged class or the older generation which studied in pre-1961 Portuguese-ruled Goa.
Different languages tend to be used for different purposes in Goa. Konkani is the most widely spoken. English and Marathi tend to be most widely read (most newspapers are read in these two languages too).
Catholics largely use Konkani for their prayer services, while the language for religion for Hindus in the state is largely Marathi. The administration is largely conducted in English, which is also the language of publication of the official gazette and the language mainly used in the courts.
It can be rather difficult currently to learn Konkani. The language is written in four to five scripts, in and beyond Goa -- Devanagari (the official script), Roman or Romi (widely used in Goa), Kannada-script, Malayalam-script and Perso-Arabic, reportedly used by some Muslim communities further south along the Indian west coast. Recently, books to learn Konkani in the Roman script have also been published, making it easier for those not knowing the Devanagari script (used to write Hindi, Marathi and other languages) that is the officially-recognized script for Konkani in Goa.
Goan culture has been shaped mainly by the Hindu and Catholic population. People are mostly easy going ('sossegado' in Portuguese). With better connectivity by air and rail, there has been an influx of people from neighbouring states that has brought with it different cultures. Many Indians from other states have now come and settled here.
Goan Catholics generally acknowledge their Hindu roots, and carry traces of a caste system within their social beliefs. It is recorded that in many instances the Hindus left one son behind to convert and thus continue to own and manage the common properties while the rest of the family preferred to emigrate to neighbouring areas along with the idols representing their Hindu deities.
Over the years large numbers of Catholics have emigrated to the major commercial cities of Bombay and Pune and from there onward to East Africa (to the then-Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique), to Portugal itself, and towards the end of the 20th century to Canada and Australia. Many old Goan ancestral properties therefore lie either abandoned or mired in legal tangles brought about by disagreements within the widely dispersed inheritors of the property. In recent years, expat Goans have been returning to their home state, often purchasing holiday homes along the coast (which are then converted into 'rent back' apartments, hired out to short-staying tourists by agents).
The best time of the year to visit Goa is mid-November to mid-February when the weather is comfortable, dry and pleasant.
Goa has a large network of banks, some of which will change currency. In the tourist pockets and urban areas, one comes across such services easily. Reserve Bank of India's Foreign Exchange Department is at 3A/B Sesa Ghor, Patto in Panjim, +91 832 2438656, +91 832 2438659, (fax:+91 832 2438657) though one need not go specifically here.
Leading hotels, shops and travel agents will also offer foreign currency exchanges.
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