How can you make a trip to a place as sunny, laid back, fun loving and popular as Goa, even better?? Simple…go there during it’s 3 day festival known as the Goa Carnival and you are bound to have three times as much fun!
One of the most colorful festivals of Goa, the Goa Carnival is not to be missed if you get a chance. If there are two traits that make Goans stand out from other Indians it’s the combination of being deeply religious and cultural despite being modern and that they believe in living life to the fullest and enjoying every moment of it. The Goa Carnival brings out these traits in every Goan and contagious as they can be everyone irrespective of religion joins in the celebrations. Months before February you will see Goa bustling with activity in preparation for the festival. Floats being decorated, costumes being stitched and feasts being prepared for the festivities to begin a few days before the 40 day abstinence period of Lent before Easter.
History of the Carnival
The word Carnival (Carnaval in Portuguese) is derived from a Latin word meaning ‘to take away meat’ and is an expression of the 40-day period of fasting of Lent, during which abstinence from meat is a rule. So a celebration before the actual fasting begins is what the Carnivals are all about.
The history of the Goan carnival goes back to almost 500 years. Introduced in Goa by the Portuguese, carnivals date back to ancient Rome and Greece. These carnivals started in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies and came to be known for the singing, dancing and drinking. During the last few years of Portuguese rule there was a decline in the popularity of the festival because of it’s increasing commercialization. But soon after Goa’s freedom form their rule and after campaigning against the rampant commercialization by the church authorities, the carnival redeemed its original form again. It reinforced the fun loving culture of Goa.
Celebrations of the Carnival today
At the start of the 3 day festivities, a king of chaos called “Momo” is chosen and he presides over the three day Carnival. The carnival mornings are dominated with singing, feasting and organizing street plays while the evenings are usually full of dancing, grand balls held on the wide open streets. A constant procession of colorful floats pour down the streets, filled by the cheer of the crowds of spectators.
The one this that never stops during the three day extravaganza is the sound of music everywhere. From live bands playing in every corner to children forming their own musical orchestra by banging on anything they find from tins to drums, the incredible buzz in the air is something that can’t be described but needs to be experienced. To top it off the carnival includes non stop feasting on the second love of Goans…Food. It spells feasts of Goan cuisine at it’s best and a chance drink your hearts content.
The carnival concludes with the famous red-and-black dance held by the Club National in Panajim on the final day. Flamboyance in everything is what the Carnival is about!
While the original religious undertone of the carnival is lost today, it has become a symbol of Goa culture which attracts tourists from India as well as abroad and is loved by everyone who joins in the celebrations!