Like every year, this year too Goa Carnival is going to be a bit hit among tourists from different parts of the world. It is one of the few carnivals in Asia and the only one in India celebrated in the month of February when all the colours of Goa come out in a splendid strut.
If you happen to visit India this February, do not forget to be a part of this Catholic national celebration:
Introduced by Portuguese who ruled Goa around 500 years ago, Goa Carnival is a four-day event that celebrates the Goan culture and cuisine on a grand scale every year. These four days are a riot of colour, energy, positive vibes, music performances, extravagant dances and matchless excitement. This year the event will begin on 22nd February and end on 25th February.
How and why is it celebrated?
Based on the Christian tradition of Mardi Gras (also called Fat Wednesday), it throws a vibrant and invigorating carnival renowned for its liveliness and colourful processions. It marks the celebration before the month of Lent aiming to ignite a spirit of fun right before the Catholic season of fasting or abstinence from meat. The event was primarily and has always been celebrated in the four prominent cities of Goa including Panaji, Mapusa, Vasco and Margao. While each of these cities hosts the parade on a separate night, smaller celebrations can also be experienced in other towns across Goa such as Calangute and Candolim. The Carnival is now celebrated in most places across the country; however, the Goa Carnival has proved to be a major tourist attraction drawing several tourists from all over India.
Activities to attend
The celebration will start on Saturday evening with a huge procession headed by King Momo. You will get to spot various bands of troubadours dressed up as fortune tellers, dancers, hawkers, women, and older men in funny clothes during the parade. Earlier, the parade used to be characterised by mock battles among boys and men with fake cartridges packed with coloured powder called cocotes, and chaff filled bombs. The celebrations end with the popular black and red dance by men in red shirts and black trousers, and women in red tops and black skirts with bands in a colourful procession. The carnival preparations start from the month of December. There is a lot of drinking, dance and music to enjoy all throughout the event till very late in the night before the day dawns into Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.
Specialty of the festival
What attract most about the carnival are the one-act folk plays called Khell or Fell spreading fascinating colours throughout the celebration in Chandor. It comprises Intruzachim Geetam or Fella-Gitam sung by the walking-players that go about the village, accompanied with musical instruments. There is something magical about the sound of violins, drums, ghumats (a Goan percussion instrument), and cymbals drenching the air. A number of special celebrations are also arranged for guests by various hotels in Goa during the carnival. It is advised to book hotels and tickets in advance due to the huge bookings taking place before and throughout the event.