Carnival: Goa

From Indpaedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Hindi English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish

This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
Additional information may please be sent as messages to the Facebook
community, All information used will be gratefully
acknowledged in your name.

An overview

As in 2023

Paul Fernandes, February 26, 2023: The Times of India

While the first float parade was organised only in the late 1960s, old-timers say they miss the local flavour that used to mark the festivities
From: Paul Fernandes, February 26, 2023: The Times of India

In Goa, they say the party doesn’t start until the fat man arrives. The fat man at the Carnival is King Momo, named after the Greek mythological character Momus, meaning blame or disgrace.

In 1965, when Goa had its first float parade as part of the three-day Carnival festivities, ‘King Momo’ Timoteo Fernandes came riding a bullock cart. An open jeep replaced the bullock cart next year, and nowadays the brightly attired King comes flanked by models to announce the Carnival decree that leads to three days of fun and frolic.

Every year, thousands of tourists line the streets of Goa’s cities to witness and applaud the spectacle of a float parade. But how Goan is this ‘tradition’ of colourfully-decorated floats, musical processions, and lavishly attired dancers?
Not much, if you ask the experts. “It was innocent fun in the 1930s, 1940s, and even later,” says 91-year-old Rafael Viegas of Curtorim in South Goa.

The Carnival used to be a festival of fun, unlike today’s commercialised governmentsponsored float pageantry, and spontaneity was its hallmark. 
“Many turned up in masks and carnivalesque attire and entered neighbours’ houses for the ‘assaltos’ (literally, assault) to play a merry prank on them. A tiatr at the church feast was the only entertainment, so everybody tried to squeeze out as much fun as possible at the Carnival (from Sunday, or even late Saturday, to Tuesday),” Viegas recalls. 

Joy With A Purpose

Sandwiched between months spent without much amusement and the 40-day Lenten period, the Carnival – also called Intruz in some parts of Goa – offered a brief spell of enjoyment.

The word is derived from ‘carni vale’, which means ‘farewell to meat’. It gave people a chance to have some fun just before the long, solemn days of Lent.

“Those were the days when many avoided meat during the period of abstinence (Lent), and Carnival offered them a chance to indulge in some merriment,” says Timoteo.

Masked men and youth in colourful outfits moved from door to door in villages and even towns, spreading cheer. Others wielding water pistols or ‘cocotes’ (powder sachets), showered water and colour on one another as they soaked in the fun and merriment.

The tradition of ‘khell’ or ‘fell’ (street plays) heightened the enjoyment as troupes accompanied by musicians – with traditional brass and percussion instruments – walked about, drawing people out of their homes.

There were other traditions too, like a ‘contra dance’ for couples, and bullock cart processions. In Dongorim and Mandur, Hindus had their own ‘Intruz’, and so did the tribal communities in some places.

Shades Of Brazil

So how did the official Goa Carnival acquire shades of Brazilian ribaldry? Well, the idea of a float parade came from Timoteo himself. The first King Momo of Goa had read a Brazilian magazine that detailed the Carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, and the rest, as they say, is history. The state tourism department organised the first float parade in the late 1960s. Though only a few floats participated in the initial years, the event was a success. Then, commercialisation crept in.

“Carnival has now become synonymous with float pageantry,” says folklore researcher Pandurang Phaldesai. “The presentation is made to fit in with the culture of tourism, restricted to floats and musical nights that have overshadowed the traditional Intruz. ”

So, is the authentic and sober Goan Carnival a lapsed tradition? Not quite, says Timoteo. “People love the traditional Carnival. If the government projects our authentic culture and traditions in the floats for tourists, curbing religious themes and too much commercialism, people may show more interest in it like they did in the past. ”

Personal tools