Viva Carnaval! — Scenes from the Goa Carnival 2015!

Posted in Goa by Priya Ramachandran.

Viva Carnaval! — Scenes from the Goa Carnival 2015!

Hedonism is not a quality that most Indian communities embrace too easily. Right from our childhoods, we are inherently taught that it is selfish to live with too much reckless abandon. Everything needs to serve a certain purpose or end. You don’t do things just for the fun of it. You save for rainy days. You do what’s ‘good for your future’... Not necessarily things that make you happy. I’m sure many of you have heard this downer of a line — “Don’t laugh too much now or you will end up crying later!” Or is it specific to a South Indian childhood? But let’s not delve into that now. The point I’m getting at is that it only makes sense that in a country like ours where people are wired to feed needs rather than wants, it is easy to understand how a celebration that is considered the height of unbridled hedonism around the world, was adopted by Goa which has 450-years of Portuguese legacy running through its veins. I’m talking about the carnival or carnaval, as its known in Portugal.

Carnaval, 2015: Right now, even as the streets of Lisboa and Maderia in Portugal are abuzz with decadent merrymaking and celebrations and the streets of Rio De Janerio are putting on a flamboyant display of the risque, bawdy and beautiful, Goa is celebrating its own Indianised or should I say, Konkanised, tamer and family-friendly version of the carnival!

Also known as Intruz, (originating from the Portuguese word, Entrudo, an alternative name for Carnival), these colourful celebrations were introduced to Goa by the Portuguese who ruled over Goa for over four centuries. The boisterous three day affair, that takes place in different parts of Goa, marks the same sentiment as the one that pervades the carnaval celebrations of all the Latin American countries — to go all out, lose all inhibitions, dance, eat, drink and make merry before the commencement of the Lent season of the Christian calendar, when abstinence becomes the focus.

From the extensive reading I did to get a deeper insight into the origin of these celebrations, I learned some interesting stories. One of them recounted how back in its early days, carnaval was a time of farce when the white masters (The Portuguese) mimicked their black slaves (usually from Mozambique), while the brown natives (Goans) enjoyed the spectacle. Apparently, the colonizers painted their face black, while the slaves plastered their faces with flour and they imitated each other, all in good humour... A practice which soon evolved into a social satire of the times. It is said that Konkani short plays called ‘felos’ were staged for the crowds and that the Portuguese Governor General and his retinue showered the crowds with confetti and danced with the public. There were reportedly mock wars with powder bombs, flour, flowers and more, with colourful procession of decorated floats in horse-drawn carriages and bullock carts setting the mood. While the horses and oxen have given way to motorized vehicles and while the floats take on a more commercialised nature than desired, with sponsors backing each entry, the general spirit of the carnaval is as merry as ever, with people throwing colour and sometimes, eggs on each other, singing themselves hoarse and dancing to the rhythm of the festivities.

The celebrations kickstarted in Panjim on ‘Sabado Gordo’ (Fat Saturday) which fell on February 15, and continues to Margao and Ponda on February 15, Vasco and Curchorem on February 16 and concludes on ‘Shrove Tuesday’ in Mapusa and Shiroda on February 17, one day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

The first float carrying King Momo and his entourage.
The first float carrying King Momo and his entourage.

The Panjim promenade that starts at Patto and ends at the Miramar circle is a beautiful tree-lined avenue with plenty of walking space for a leisurely stroll. On the day of the Panjim carnaval, this road was transformed into a pedestrian-only zone and wore a festive look as people tried to claim their spots, which would be their vantage point for the entire evening as the floats drift past them. While some of the seasoned revellers brought their own chairs, other climbed trees or made their way into high buildings, in the hope of securing a better view. The festive mood was absolutely infectious as everyone stopped to buy quirky wigs, masquerade masks and other novelties being sold quite opportunely by roadside vendors along the promenade.

Then, it was time for the party to spill out on to the streets! King Momo, who presides over the carnaval, declared the celebrations open! Rei Momo (Portuguese) is considered the king of Carnivals in numerous Latin American festivities and his appearance signifies the beginning of the festivities. The origin is said to be from the Greek God of Momos, who is considered the God of writers, poets, satire and mockery. In this adapted version, King Momo, is the King of Chaos, who is given a free reign of the state for three whole days. During his rule, revellers, acrobats, clowns, dancers, jesters and mischief-makers are allowed to run amok! A portly and jolly man usually plays King Momo. Geovani Bosco Santimano, from Colva, who is currently the Joint Commissioner of Customs and Central Excise is Goa Carnaval 2015’s King Momo. As he does every year, King Momo kickstarted the celebrations by commanding his people to ‘Kha, piya and majja kar’ — ‘Eat, drink and be merry!’

And that’s exactly what everyone did! Here’s what we saw...

Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
King Momo and his retinue declare the carnival open!
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Throwing confetti on the revellers.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Onlookers wait for the floats in anticipation.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A float with a mask.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A float depicting woodcutters sporting the traditional loincloth.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A carnival veteran takes part in the festivities.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A old woman presides over her float.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A closer look at the Kashti.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A child reacts to the men on the float, sporting their Kashtis.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
The best seats in the house.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
And the balcony seat for others.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A creepy cupid waves at us.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Creepy cupid on the prowl.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A young boy dances to the current wedding anthem of Goans - One Cent, Five Cent, Ten Cent, Dollar.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
SBI agents were also part of the crowd.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A little girl hoisted on her daddy's shoulders get a better view of the action.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Just another colorful ride.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A young man dressed as an old woman had a message to share.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Spot the human.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
The wanna-be King Momo.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
The Goan anaconda.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Dancers on the road.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
An old man captures the moments.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Another colorful ride.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
More dancers in action.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
The robots are taking over.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
The robot army.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Carnival selfie.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Angry dinosaur.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Angry dinosaur.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A merman and mermaid.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
The merman and mermaid on their float.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
What is he?
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A young cop oversees the proceedings.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Dancing with no inhibitions.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
This float representing Konkan Railways, had this temple, a mosque and a church atop it.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
The Konkan Railways float.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
The Konkan Railway float.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
More dancers in action.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Fierce cubs.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
The cubs with their tiger.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
That guy from Scream on his Scream Mobile.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A female fetus being crushed.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Save the girl child.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Basically the message here is to kill the girl child, at the rate at which trees are being cut in Goa. Also, some bad English.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Onlookers watching the floats pass by, from their luxurious balcão.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A man and his monkey on some kind of a boat.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A big fat mosquito decides to make an appearance.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Next it was the turn of the fly.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Then tortoises.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A frog followed.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
And, another frog.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
An anti-drug campaign with some bad messages.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A float with a social message.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A girl waves out to the crowd while performing a traditional dance.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Rapunzel de Ponje.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
People watching the carnival atop the Mandovi hotel.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A 'tiny' milk vendor.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Martians on the Mangalyaan.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Another milk vendor.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Kermit the martian makes an appearance.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A message from the bread man.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A closer look at the bread man.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
The floats make their way along the promenade.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A commercialized float promoting a party with a very disinterested woman at the helm.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Priya documenting the proceedings.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A bunch of enthusiastic dancers.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Silhouettes against the setting sun.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Redmau5
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A young boy gets a better view, thanks to his daddy.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
FC Goa fans.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Pink Panther.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
The Pink Panther drives down the Panjim promenade.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A man dressed as a Lambadi, strikes a pose with what looks like a tourist.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Goan fruits.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
The fruits of Goa!
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
An elderly woman dances behind a float with her basket of fruits.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A fake policeman beats up a Juventus fan conducting a bull fight.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A selfie-stick being used to get a better view of the carnival.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A dancer shoots a look at her friend on the float.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Disinterested kids on a random float.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A lady with a window that opens up to a carnival.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A float filled with football fans.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Goencho Messi.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Kids promoting football.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
His Grandpa's wedding!
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Grandpa and his bride.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
The flower girl attacks us with confetti.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
The Grandma.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Traditional wedding fare - A roasted (more like burnt) wild boar.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Hey sexy lady.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Not so sexy anymore.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A boy spread's the Live Happy message.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Finding Felly.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Good 'ol Felly Gomes at the carnival.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Felly does a headstand.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Kids dancing.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Someone has been eating plastic animals and not attending school.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Kids dancing.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A butterfly well done.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
A dragon and an eagle fight it out.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
The battle continues.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
People pose along side King Momo.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
And finally, a glimpse of the men who were in standby in the rare case of an emergency.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
The party continues at 'Samba Square'.
Goa Carnival - Panjim, 2015
Viva arnival 2015!

Most of the photos are by Lovell D'souza.

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