The time when cities come alive with colour. The time when people unite in joy and celebration, when fun is untethered. The time of revelry and jest. The time when Google Maps is nothing but a network of perennial red lines.
Before I begin rambling about the carnival like a crazed carnival parrot, Imma tell you a bit about Goa, the most popular holiday destination in India.
Goa is a state in the Western part of India. It is bang on the coast and was once a Portuguese colony. Goa is known mainly for its beaches and sea food but it also has a rich cultural treasury of churches, shops, museums, all in a fusion of Portuguese and Coastal Indian culture.
Portuguese influence is very strong in Goa. In fact, Vasco Da Gama landed in Goa in 1524 and the state was a Portuguese colony till 1961. The port city where Da Gama arrived is now called Vasco Da Gama or simply Vasco and is a major city in the south of Goa.
The Goa Carnival is one of the main events of the state and it is a festival attended by people from all over the globe. It is celebrated for four days during the festival of Mardi Gras, before the period of Lent, usually beginning on Fat Saturday and ending on Shrove Tuesday. It is a tradition started by the Portuguese colonisers who also brought Roman Catholicism in Goa and currently, the carnival has more of a Brazilian touch to attract more crowd. Carnival festivities include a parade of floats, dancers, fancy vehicles, jesters, cross-dressers and all sorts of revellers. The procession begins with the crowning of King Momo who is chosen from among the locals and it usually moves and gathers around a church.
This year, I was lucky to have a holiday at the time of the carnival so I packed my bags, grabbed my cat and set off to the city of Vasco Da Gama to watch the carnival in all its glory. The carnival is held in four major cities of Goa and Vasco is one of them.
So, without further ado, Imma show you a glimpse of the most colourful and musical event in India.
This is the first float that I saw in the carnival. It consists of frogs, flowers, sunshine and rainbows. The floats that are used for the carnival have very random themes and this float had a theme of conserving frogs as they are essential for nature. Honestly, I found it very cute and I like how the float showcased the necessity of frogs who seem to be quite trendy these days:)
Now, when I set off for Goa, I wasn’t exactly sure of the location of the carnival. I just knew that it was happening in the city of Vasco but that is one big city and if it weren’t for Google Maps alerting me about high traffic conditions on one particular street, I would probably have missed seeing the carnival. So, Viva La Google, I guess….
This float is my favourite because it literally made me double over with laughter. It is supposed to be a float for Diabetes Prevention but when I first saw a large, rather feral looking man leaning on a giant packet of chips, I honestly thought that the float was a tribute to junk food lovers. And then I heard the accompanying music.
Now let’s get real for a minute. When we talk about Diabetes, we’re always like “Diabetes is a silent killer. Almost two thirds of the world population suffers from Diabetes. Every city is the Diabetes capital of the world. Don’t eat so much fried stuff et.al.”
But in comes this float with the most peppy song ever and the lyrics went like “Di-a-be-tes, oh yeah, Di-a-be-tes! Diabetes will kill you, if you don’t take care. Di-a-be-tes, oh yeah! Yoga will make you fine and fit. Dia-a be-tes, oh yeah!’
I mean, there is passive aggressive threats but then there’s an absolute bombshell of a song accompanying a giant tableau of potato chips and a Gold Spot soda, telling you to not eat junk and then dropping a “Di-a-be-tes, oh yeah!”, like this song is what will play in my nightmares.
Luckily, there wasn’t a pom-pom dance to go with the float, hehe.
Just a reminder that the Goa Carnival is wild.
This float was a real pretty one! It showcased the local florists in Goa and was sponsored by the Florists’ Association of Goa. The entire tableau had one truck of a flower house, followed by people rolling giant vases of flowers and finally, a pom pom dance.
Here’s to flowers:
Ok, this picture is the whole essence of the carnival. It captures the complete street with its masquerade decorations and even the lively crowds. Goa is essentially a peaceful, and a little lazy town but the Carnival brings in a new burst of energy that transforms the state into a festive carousel. I love how the crowd is completely drawn into the spirit of revelry and the unity in culture is just beautiful. Goa is a prime example of coexisting cultures without demonising any culture or religion and this harmony is exactly what India means by unity in diversity:)
Here is a small clip of the pom pom dance following the tableau. The song is a Goan folk song in the Konkani language which is the state language of Goa and it talks about the beauty of flowers.
Conservation of nature was a huge theme in the Goa Carnival and this float with an effigy of Groot was a tableau for the conservation of soil and forests.
It was a beautiful and daunting float and the crowd gasped a little when this one came on the streets. Besides, its accompanying music was ‘Calm Down’ by Rema and Selena Gomez so it was really a crowd favourite!
Also, the Groot is super adorbs! If I got a miniature of this float, I would buy it:)
Toads and frogs were a major part of the Carnival this year. This float was about the consequences faced by toad poachers and it came in with a loud, bellowing accompaniment which made me laugh. I actually thought that a giant toad was invading the streets of Goa:)
Frog supremacy is the only valid supremacy!
This was the most beautiful tableau that I saw in the carnival. The stag is an animal that I greatly respect and seeing such a huge float of a stag warmed my heart. Stags, or any member of the deer family are beautiful creatures and they are the very epitome of innocence and grace, as well as resilience and grandeur.
I was so glad to get a nice picture of the stag, with its antlers contrasting with the sky.
Here’s to the Prince of the Forest.
Viva La Bambi!
The final clip from the Carnival at Vasco is one of the jesters. These guys looked so cool yet eerie and I was half expecting them to jump off the van and cause some chaos, hehe….These jesters often spray coloured water on revellers and I was lucky to not get sprayed.
My grandmother did get sprayed though and that was funny:) She didn’t realise it at the moment but when she got home, half her face was purple.
I love the vibe that these guys bring and it sure smells a lot like teen spirit!
This is a picture of me after seeing the Carnival at Vasco Da Gama. I bought myself a masque as a souvenir.
I love my sunshade! I don’t know how it came to be in my possession but this is the first time I wore it and it was such a good accessory because Goa is hot and one absolutely needs a proper sunshade for sun protection.
Don’t throw a shoe at me, but….
Viva la Sunshade!
Moving on from Vasco Da Gama, the carnival proceeded further down south to the city of Margao.
Now, I was bitten by the lucky bug because I was put up at a hotel in Margao and I got to watch the carnival twice.
So, in the next post, I will tell ya peeps all about the carnival at Margao!
Stay tuned for more revelry, jest and helluva fun!
And that is a wrap!
Until Next Time:)
Viva La Blog!