Updated: Mar 29, 2019
CARNAVAL CARNAVAL, VIVA CARNAVAL! Don't be surprised if this slogan gets stuck in your head after the 4 day extravaganza in Goa. The Goa carnival is the biggest of its kind in the country and is believed to be left behind by the Portuguese. This made me wonder how it all started. Most of the participants of this festival have no clue on its origin. So I did my research and connected the dots. Christians all over the world observe a period known as LENT in commemoration of the 40 days that Jesus fasted before he was crucified. During this time one is expected to abstain from merry making, bad habits and eating meat. The word carnival has literally been derived from 'Carne' and 'Levare' which roughly means Bye Bye to meat. Hence this festival takes place for 4 days before Ash Wednesday which is the first day of Lent.
The Portuguese however called it 'Entrudo’ which is commonly known as ‘Intruz’ in Konkani. Just like how Goans love their bread, the carnival is another Portuguese tradition that will undeniably continue for a long time. Popular for the innovative floats, dazzling dancers, Latin based music and we'll prepared delicacies of Goa. The festival is launched into the spirit of merry making by King Momo. He flags off the parade at every location on top of a float with beautiful women dancing by his side. Typically big in stature with a mighty personality he reigns over Goa for the four days. The tourism department of Goa appoints the King Momo for the year. This time it was William Anes who is a dance performer and has actively participated in the carnival celebrations in the past.
The Goa Carnival is so dear to the Goekars that even though they are settled all over the world, this time is an opportunity to be together and make merry. Viva Carnaval is yelled out by every other person with a mic in his hand which means Long Live Carnival. Everyday the parade takes place at different locations. Starting at Panjim on Saturday, Margao on Sunday, Vasco and Ponda on Monday and finally Mapusa, Curchorem and Morjim on Tuesday. Initially the carnival took place only in Panjim with several floats. Various villages, associations and groups began competing for the cash prize awarded to the best floats. The number of floats increased with the years until managing became an issue. That's why the parade is spread out over 4 days. Nevertheless, Panjim is still the biggest with the most crowd and maximum life.
The creativity of the float designs are baffling. There were large animal shaped trucks. Some had morals behind the theme such as save water, do not drink and drive, Sao Joao etc. It's something you cannot predict but have to see for yourself. Surprisingly even Batman was part of the parade on his sophisticated bike from 'The Dark Knight Rises’. Another interesting float was by the people of Kerala as sign of gratitude to the helping hand during the terrible flood that took place a few months ago. A few of the floats also participate as advertisement for their brands. Between the trucks there are individual participants that dress up in a fancy attire. It could either be themed, a strong personality or just something random to make people laugh. If you want to wear something just look around for people selling masks and wigs by the road. After coming for the carnival why wouldn't you use the opportunity to take good selfies.
What to expect and know at the carnival:
The road between Miramar almost upto Dona Paula circle gets extremely crowded.
To get parking nearby, try and reach at around 3PM.
The best place to stand and watch is near the judging table. The energy is high and performance is at peak.
You would spend about 2 hours maximum to watch all the floats and wind up by 5. The performers get exhausted after this. Then Head over to Samba Square or The Grape escapade and continue the fun.
Book your travel tickets and accommodation in advance to get the best bookings. The self driven vehicle rates are higher than normal during this period.