Location - Panjim
Time - February
Come February and Goa is all bustling with activity. A
three day Goa carnival is what hooks everyone for this is something
Goans await anxiously the entire year. Such celebration is unknown in
any other part of the country and with time the Goa carnival has
become not just a delight to Goans but a major tourist attraction as
Though, essentially a Christian festival, with passing of age all communities have begun to participate in this carnival. Preparations start much in advance for three day non stop fun and excitement. And once it starts, all Goans do and think is music, dance and merrymaking. The fun, the frolic, the soothing climate - few can resist of not being a part of it. Old and young, kids and adults, everyone gets into this party mood.
History of Goa carnival
Goa carnival is a legacy of Portuguese which is
preserved till date. During the last few years of Portuguese rule,
there was a decline in the popularity of the festival and of late too
it had become more of a commercial activity. But with massive
campaigning against the rampant commercialization by the church
authorities, the carnival redeemed its original form again. Goa
carnival was introduced by its erstwhile rulers. It reinforced the fun
loving culture of Goa. A king of chaos called "Momo" is
chosen and he presides over the three day activity.
Earlier carnival was in a more rustic and rowdy form. Flour, eggs, oranges, lemons, mud, sand-filled gloves along with dirty water, various liquids and glue were targeted at the passer bys. People used to throw old pans, pots, and other kitchen utensils out of the windows as a symbolic gesture to discard the old and dirty before the Lenten fast. Even more funny was the battleground scene where the weapons were plaster-of-Paris eggs, wax lemons, corncobs and beans. These blows were reciprocated with brooms and wooden spoons. Endless lavish feasts, cakes and pastries being distributed by convents, people used to gorge on food for three days. Preparations for this three day riot of colours,, food and fun used to begin much in advance, sometimes as long as three months. This was the Goan carnival in its true blue colours. Today though many rituals have dropped and many modified but tthe spirit of the carnival still reins in its true essence.
The Carnival Today
Preparations for three days of enjoyment, enjoyment and
enjoyment begin at least three months in advance. There is so much to
be done. While those who perform during the carnival rehearse for the
plays to be enacted. The song and dance performances are composed and
choreographed by Goans themselves. The plays at times enact some
instances from the Goan history. The characters are enacted by men
only, even the roles of women! The dresses are very colorful and
bright . The headgears so unique that they will capture your fancy at
once. Boys and girls start preparing by designing their costumes. Not
just the costumes, they also have to prepare for the mock battle. They
fill packets and cartridges made of paper with bran, husk or sawdust
or plain powder to use in the mock battles. All geared up, by the eve
of the carnival, the excitement runs so high in the blood that anyone
can barely sleep at night.
Once the carnival begins, Goa is in a different mood altogether. There is a riot of colours on the street when the procession comes in its true form, all geared up with sparkling floats and troupes of masked revelers. It comes into form with King Momo leading the parade and in full command of his public. The next three days are marked by celebration of the Goan culture. There are competitions and functions with the winners being given prizes by the king. Adding to the colors are the colours people smear on each others faces with as a part of the fun. (Earlier they used flour and eggs instead )
All the Goa is a party zone, girls flaunting frills and
boys their cowboy hats. Then there are people wearing masks resembling
nursery rhyme characters as well as cartoons. These attractive masks
fascinate children especially. Each music band gets an audience that
is fully into merrymaking. Flamboyance in everything, that's the
Fireworks, fortune tellers, children forming their own musical orchestra by banging on anything they find (from tins to drums), elder ones in funny costumes, these are just few scenes you will spot. To put to words the entire carnival is difficult, you have to see it to feel the buzz in the air. A play cum dance song of Mussol is a special attraction. The icing on the cake is the Red-and-Black dance organized on the final day by the Club National in Panjim
One thing that never stops during three days of galore is the music. Infact there is so much of music that another name of the Goan Carnival could be the musical extravaganza. A chance to make mockery of the establishment is not lost during the carnival as people come up with street plays, live bands, and a more than just enthusiastic audience, you can't ask for more.
Though for the Christians, the carnival is of religious importance since it marks the beginning of the forty day period of lent, but the religious undertone is missed in the spirit of carnival. Goa carnival is today a celebration and symbol of Goa culture which attracts tourists from India as well as abroad.