Spectacular floats adorn the streets with people dancing without inhibition in their brilliantly coloured costumes while rainbow coloured masks and feathers adorn the faces of passers-by. Scores of entertainers from diverse lands and color are aplenty and the atmosphere is that of merry making twice over. Eager tourists can’t believe their luck as they take to their hand held smart phone cameras trying to capture the perfect ‘SELFIE’ and update their joy on social media saying – ‘It’s that time of the year again!’ We’re not describing the popular festival Mardi Gras in New Orleans. We’re talking about our own version of it, here in our very own backyard – The Goa Carnival.
Easily the biggest festival and unique and exclusive to Goa since the 18th Century, The Goa Carnival is celebrated before the commencement of the 40 days of Lent; which is a period of fasting, abstinence and spirituality. It was introduced by the Portuguese, who ruled over the state for more than 500 years.
Although the three day festival is predominately celebrated by the local Christians, it has evolved to include some traditional Hindu flavour over the past decade as well as western music and dance form. Though it originally started as a celebration by the local population, it has crossed all geographical and cultural barriers with thousands of people thronging from all over the country and the world take active part in it.
Taking place between the 25th and 28th of February in 2017, the carnival will kick off with an order to start partying, from the legendary King Momo, or the ‘King of Chaos’, a character derived from the Greek God, Momus – The God of Satire. Following him, in procession, are flocks of dancers, bands, folk singers adorning costumes of fortune tellers, hawkers, older men and women in brightly coloured clothing and many more such delightful imagery and entertainment to watch.
The three days that follow is a time of unbridled festivities among the masses. Day long parades, accompanied with live bands, dance troupes, party goers wearing masks and costumes, sports competitions and colourful floats. It’s also a great time to treat your taste buds and indulge in the sinful local delicacies and wash the food down with a glass or four of the local Goan spirit, Feni. If you’re a late riser, don’t worry, you won’t miss a moment of the celebrations as they go on late into the night.
Back in the day, the procession would enact battle scenes, with boys and men armed with fake guns, loaded with coloured powder. There was no shortage of firecrackers that were lit in harmony with the beat of the drums. Local boys eagerly waited for the Carnival, as it became an opportune setting to profess their love for the girl of their dreams.
The festivities culminate with the ‘Red and Black Ball’ that has women dressed in red tops and black skirts while their male counterparts adorn red shirts and black trousers – this is held at the Clube National in Panjim and is a gala event attended by multitudes of people.
So if you are planning a trip to Goa plan to be there around The Goa Carnival.