Goa Carnival: A Legacy of the Portugese Presence in India

Anitha Aravind March 24, 2014

Goa Carnival, A Portugese Legacy

A part of India, yet apart from the rest of the country with its own culture, identity and image, the coastal state of Goa is charming, hedonistic and picturesque; a perfect choice for an exciting vacation. The Goa Carnival makes the place all the more exciting, especially because this is the only state where the carnival is celebrated in India. The high-spirited carnival is a legacy of the Portuguese presence in India; Goa was the capital of Portuguese-occupied India.

Goa Carnival

March 1st to March 4th, 2014 were the dates for this year’s Goa Carnival with 4 days of party fun, grand decor, masks, magnificent floats, live music and entertainment. Preceding this was a two-day extravaganza, a food and culture festival that celebrated delicious Goan cuisine and bubbly coastal music and dance. The carnival is the highlight of Goa’s festival calendar; this event receives visitors in plenty, both from India and abroad.

As in other countries that celebrate the carnival, this event is a precursor to Lent and involves colorful parades, floats, masked merrymakers, relentless music and dance; of course, this is also when people indulge in all the food and fun that they may have to abstain from in the coming month. The gathering is predominantly Christian, but plenty of native Hindus also take part in the carnival celebrations.

On March 1st, the carnival was kicked off when the legendary King Momo took over the state of Goa for three days to command pre-Lent festivities; so for these three days, partying and merry-making are officially mandatory. The vibrant float procession that was led by the king was viewed by thousands; locals and tourists gathered throughout the route of the procession and cheered the parade with chants of “Viva Carnival”.

Viva Carnival

With about 90 floats, some traditional, some fun and thematic, and others promoting various social messages, the parade bursts with colors and enthusiasm. A full schedule of programs and shows hosted by the Tourism Government of Goa has made the Goa Carnival all the more fun; with shows like dance acrobats, live bands, Bollywood dance shows and special Samba shows by dancers from Brazil, 2014’s Goa carnival was electrifying.

A traditional float

The Goa Carnival is not just about parades, music and dance; there are other Indian as well as Portuguese customs like bursting fireworks and squirting colored water on everyone. While Panaji, the capital city witnesses most of the action, villages in and around Goa also celebrate the carnival by its local name, Intruz, in their own style. The parade is kicked off in Panaji and moves on to other cities like Margao, Vasco and Mapusa every year.

No matter where it’s celebrated, this festival spreads joy and is a grand celebration of life; festivities start in the morning and the music does not end until well past midnight.