Most of you probably associate New Year’s Eve with Goa, a boozy montage of crazy ‘beach parties’, merry dancing and wild nightlife illustrating your idea of this party land. But what you don’t know is that right around the same time that revellers from all over the world are bringing in New Year’s Eve either at perpetual traffic jams or at overpriced, smoke-filled and sweaty dance floors, an old tradition still burns strong in the tiny villages of Goa. Quite literally! In a practice that dates back generations, children from various neighbourhoods make an effigy of an old man and burn him at midnight to mark the ringing out of the old and the ringing in of the new.
While I can’t find much information on how or why this symbolic custom originated here (Goans in the know, help me out!), there’s much to reason to believe that this tradition could have crept into Goa when it was a Portuguese Colony. In fact, in strikingly similar practices in places like Colombia, New Mexico, Puerto Rico and Cuba, ‘Mr Old Year’ or Old Man Gloom’, an embodiment of the year gone by, is set ablaze in order to welcome the promising new year with a clean slate.