Goan Carnival,Goa
Manha de Carnival! Remember the song? It is a Brazilian song, very popular the world over, which celebrates the return of joy: Alegria Voltou. The joy returns every year for less than a week-five days in Brazil, Easter Sunday. It was a way to "put away flesh" carelevvare in Old Italian. Carnival in Goa is a non-stop 3-day festival of color, song and music, providing a healthy entertainment for all, young and old. It does not matter whether one enjoys or see others enjoying. There is enthusiasm and happiness all around. The carnival is meant to be a feasting-drinking-merrymaking orgy just before the austere 40 days of Lent. Huge parades are organized throughout the state with bands, dances and floats out all night on the streets, and grand balls held in the evenings. The crnival concludes with the famous red-and-black dance held by the Clube National in Panajim on the final day.
 
History of Goan Carnival
Carnival in Goa was a great leveler. Early accounts-all of them hearsay-are indeed educative. The white masters masqueraded as black slaves and the latter-generally slaves brought in from Mozambique-plastered their faces with flour and wore high battens, or walked on stilts. For those three ephemeral days, they were happy to be larger than life. And while the whites and the blacks mimicked each other the brown locals watched this reversal of roles in awe from the sidelines. In course of time, when the imperial regime mellowed and inhibitions dwindled, Carnival, no more an excuse to be what one was not-and often hoped to be-became a time for bonhomie. The old crude mimicry blossomed into social satire. In the villages, the playwrights pieced together in Khel (Konkani for play) anecdotes, events and criticism. The Portuguese Governor General, his family and retinue used the occasion for a show of diplomacy. They showered the crowds with poudre de riz and confetti, and were happy to be showered back. At the Carnival balls, the governor-general danced with whom he pleased-provided, of course the lady agreed to the request. And anyone was free to ask the governor-general's wife for a dance. And if the tangoit was the tango they danced cheek-to-cheek, hip-to-hip.
 
Meaning Behind Carnival
The word 'carnival' is said to be derived from the Latin 'Carne', meaning meat, and 'Vale', which translates to 'good-bye'. Some also link the word to 'Carnislevamen' or 'the pleasures of meat', focusing on the enjoyment of meat during the festivities, before the abstinence that follows during Lent. Another hypothesis suggests that the word came from 'Carrus Navalis', the horse-drawn, boat-shaped carriage that was paraded during the Roman festival Saturnalia, in honor of Saturn. It carried men and women in fancy dresses, wearing masks, and singing obscene songs. It is possible that the present-day concept of a carnival emerged from this parade. The Goa Carnival is an integral part of the Portuguese heritage of the state, which was a dominion of Portugal till 1961. The carnival epitomizes the fun-loving culture that is characteristic of Goa. It was introduced by the erstwhile rulers as a rowdy celebration in which flour, eggs, oranges, lemons, mud, sand-filled gloves along with dirty water, various liquids and glue were aimed at passersby. Used pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils were also thrown out of windows. Perhaps this was done to discard the old and the dirty before the Lenten fast.
 
Attractons of the Goa Carnival
Street Plays, songs, dances, and unrehearsed farces mocking the establishment are performed before an enthusiastic, responsive audience. Floats depicting popular lullabies and nursery rhymes make a whimsical and colorful sight on the streets. In the three days of celebrations, cultural functions and competitions abound, and are judged by specially selected people. King Momo distributes the prizes to the winners. The contestants wear colorful costumes and elaborate masks. Amidst the outrageous dresses seen on the street are some made of sheer, transparent polythene. In the fun-filled ambience, people smear color on each other, instead of the flour, eggs, fruit and water that used to be used in earlier times.
 
Festival Beyond Barriers
Although, the three-day festival is primarily celebrated by Christians, it has also absorbed Hindu tradition revelry, western dance forms, and turned into a pageantry of sorts. Though it started as a celebration enjoyed only by the local population, it has today crossed the state frontiers and attracts thousands of people from all over the country. The carnival is held in February for three days and nights, when the legendary king Momo takes over the state and the streets come alive with music and color. Then begins the weeklong event, which is a time of unbridled festivity and merry-making, which has been celebrated since the 18th Century.
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