February Festivities with the Goa Carnival
In February every year, Goa wears a different look. It comes to live to the many colours resonating the celebrations and cultures of the state. It is time for the Goa Carnaval!
The Carnaval (as spelt in Portuguese) was a tradition which was brought in by the Portuguese. Since then, it has become an integral part of the Goan festivities. The 4-day festival is celebrated all across the state, at different pockets or talukas. The proposed dates this year are from February 6 to 9.
The Goa Carnival brings the people together while introducing tourists to the local way of life in the coastal state.
On every day, the colourful parade with floats and the lively parties cross a designated town in the state. From Mapusa in the north, to Vasco, to the capital Panaji and finally to Margao towards the south; each of these places get their chance to host the masked dancers and the costumed revellers.
Usually held together by a theme, every season is dedicated to something that is close to Goa. Last year, in 2015, it was ‘Goa and Love’, with loud messages on environment conservation. Even though many floats may exhibit their traditional dance, songs or livelihood rituals (like fishing or paddy farming), the others abide by the theme and display a vibrant mix of skits or enactments. This happens as their float drives past through some of the most important roads of the Konkani state.
The days are pleasantly warm, though the performers feel the heat of the sun. Dressed in elaborate costumes and bright colours, it can be an excruciating task to imagine their work. But once you see the level of merriment and excitement in them, you may join in to match a few dance steps to their beats.
Don’t forget to carry your fully charged camera or phone. And hydrate yourself well enough.
After sundown, there is plenty to eat and drink. As an extension of the celebrations, there are plenty of food stalls and cocktails bars around different corners of the state.
Last year, the Samba Square in Panjim (near Panjim Church) saw a plethora of people swaying to the tunes of live music and indulging in multi-cuisine food stalls. From the local Konkani fish fry to the famous Italian pasta, most popular dishes were available in this food fare. The streets were crowded with people socializing with a drink or two in their hands. And a little beyond, on the stage, the alternate brightly lit artistes sang retro songs.
Don’t forget to lose yourself in the crowd while enjoying responsibly.
Helpful information: The floats parade through assigned towns, each day. Early evenings are usually a good time to go. Vasco is probably the most crowded and avoidable. The traffic has been well-managed in the Goan capital, though if you have other plans, it’s always good to avoid the Carnaval routes.