Carnival in Goa

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Tags : Fairs & Festivals

Goa Carnival 2023 Dates : February 18 - February 21 (2023)

Entry Fees for Goa Carnival : No Entry Fee

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Goa Carnival, Goa Overview

The Goa Carnival is a legacy of the Portuguese rule and has grown from being a quiet event to a popular, massive scale festival, attracting thousands of tourists from India and abroad. One of the most awaited occasions in the state, the carnival has a long history of its origin, stretching back right to the ancient Roman Empire. The atmosphere is charged with spectacular parades, dances, musical events and the great food, all of which are major crowd pullers. Festivities occur in the cities of Panjim, Mapusa, Margao, and Vasco da Gama, with Panjim having it the largest of all


A Carnival Float
A Carnival Float

A mermaid float in the Goa Carnival (Source)

The Significance of the Goan Carnival

The celebration of Goa Carnival serves many purposes in a single shot. On the one hand, it helps in strengthening the harmony among the people of diverse communities residing in the state, and on the other, it presents Goa as a sought-after destination for the tourists. Goa Carnival keeps the cultures and traditions of the state alive by its celebration and gives the people a recreational period from a hectic daily schedule.

Goa Carnival Festival Celebrations & Events

The epicentre of the Carnival is the capital city of Panjim, although celebrations occur at several places across the state.

1. Parade and the Floats

Panjim sees the grandest of these celebrations with heavily decorated carnival floats moving through the roads, accompanied by dancing men and women in bright costumes. Mermaid shaped large floats, clowns with large heads, and people moving their bodies to dance numbers on the roads are defining features and common sights to the festival.

2. The Stalls

Short plays representing Goan culture are also organised. Various musicians can be found playing their instruments with much entertainment. Other forms of art to are represented by respective artists. Food stalls line up, offering a variety of food to the people to buy.

3. King Momo

King Momo of Goa Carnival 2018
King Momo of Goa Carnival 2018

A nominal leader, known as King Momo, is chosen before the celebrations, who is supposedly given charge of the state to rule for four days. Generally, a fat, jolly person is selected for the job, as per the practice all around the globe. King Momo of the Goan Carnival leads the troupe of dancing men and women, with the message of 'Kha, piyeaanimajjakar' meaning, 'Eat, drink and enjoy'.

The History of Goa Carnival

A Carnival float commencing the parade

Having its origin in the pagan traditions of ancient Rome where people consumed all the gathered food for winter at its end lest their decay, the grand celebration of the event was assimilated by and into the Christian world. The Christian liturgical calendar marked the days as last period before the beginning of the period of Lent. Lent is considered to be a period of fasting and penance, in which people would cleanse them of sins and abstain from consuming meat.

Thus the period before the commencement of Lent is celebrated as final days of enjoyment and feasting, organised into the Carnival. Celebrations take place throughout the Christian world across denominations, but mainly by Roman Catholics. The Portuguese, who mostly conformed to Roman Catholicism, introduced the Carnival in colonised Goa, and the exact date of the first-ever Carnival to occur in the state is lost although some consider 1961 as the beginning year.

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