Goa is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world, a paradise of sun, sand, culture, and heritage, all rolled into one.
Goa is a vacation destination that hosts visitors year-round. According to the Tourism Board of Goa, it has welcomed over a million tourists since 2018. Amidst the many events and celebrations in Goa, the Goa Carnival is unique to the country. Along with Goa’s Churches, sandy beaches, sweets and diverse cuisine available year-round, the carnival comes annually before the Lenten season. This year, the four-day carnival is scheduled to be between February 26, 2022, and March 1, 2022.
The History of goa carnival
Goa was under the rule of the Portuguese for over 400 years, having gained its independence in 1961. The Portuguese sailor Vasco Da Gama was the first European to sail to Indian shores. This began a timeline of imperial rule in the country. Goa is influenced by the Portuguese across many spectrums, including religion, culture, architecture, and lifestyle.
The Portuguese introduced their customs wherever they ruled, including countries like Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, Angola, Cape Verde (Republic of Cabo Verde), Indonesia, etc. The Goa carnival is one such celebration drawn influence from their European rulers. ‘Carnívora’ comes from the Portuguese language meaning ‘meat-eating’. Having a heavy influence from the Roman Catholic Lenten season, this carnival is celebrated in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday.
Click here for one of the earliest mentions of the Goa Carnival in The Chronicle Star, February 8, 1952. It mentions two Axis ships, the German S.S. Drachenfels and the Italian Anfora scuttled by their crews at the time of the carnival in 1946.
The Carnival and The Parade
The Carnival is held in the major cities of Goa such as Panjim, Miramar, Vasco, Margao, etc., along predetermined routes. The parade is swarmed by live band performers, traditional and folk dancers, people dressed in various bright costumes and traditional attire.
The float competition adheres to rules set by the Tourism Board of Goa. Multiple categories of floats are laid out for entry, such as Traditional, Club and Institution, Family, Fun Junky Car, and Clown. Rules for a valid judgment are simple and assist in bringing out the essence of the many cultures in Goa.
Some of the rules include the use of traditional musical instruments, recorded music, or having a live brass band on display, while all e participants must be in costume. At any given time, the float vehicle should be covered and decorated entirely.
The winners of the float are judged on parameters based on the originality of the concept, costumes and performance of participants, punctuality and behavior, music, and visual impact/effect displayed.
Also selected by the Goa Tourism Board, the Goa Carnival crowns a King Momo who ushers in the event. Derived from the Greek God Momus, King Momo has his presence in carnivals held in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and many others. He presides over the tenure of the carnival and encourages carnival attendees to ‘eat, drink and be merry’. The first King Momo as reported by the Goa Herald is a Mr. Timoteo Fernandes in the year 1965.
At the onset of the carnival, you will find the street junctions and popular locations filled with murals, paintings, artwork, colorful structures, etc., welcoming the carnival. They depict the Goan traditions, culture, current affairs and social messages. Multiple cities host the carnival in Goa and bring their own flare and local traditions on exhibit.
The air is filled with the aroma of traditional Goan sausages, traditionally prepared coastal cuisine, local beverages, and an array of Goan sweets. The streets are decorated to welcome the parade and are crowded out with local produce all over. Traditionally cooked ‘channa’ (chickpeas) in hot sand over coal or firewood, handmade clay pots on sale, and masks on offer, along with multiple foods, drink, and dessert stalls
Since the early 1970s, the festivities of the carnival conclude with The Red and Black Dance – a performance by local musicians and bands performing at selected venues like social institutions and open-air arenas. The attire for this dance party, as stated in its name, are the colors red and black, and the event is held on ‘Fat Tuesday’.
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Feature Image Via TravelTriangle.