The Goa carnival is an annual event held in February. The streets of Goa come alive with colour for three days and nights just before Lent. Celebrated by the Christian population in Goa, the festival is an integral part of the Portuguese heritage of the state that was a dominion of Portugal till 1961. The carnival epitomizes fun-loving culture, characteristic to Goa. During these three days, Goa is gripped by the pulsating rhythm of guitars and the lilt of folk songs. The revelers in their colourful improvised fancy dresses, dance and sing in the streets, with King Momos, Lord of the Carnival, presiding over the scene.
Preparations for the Carnival starts as early as December and January. Boys and girls plan and design their fancy costumes for the occasion. They prepare packets and cartridges made of paper and stuffed with bran, husk or sawdust or plain powder to use in the mock battles.
The main function of the Carnival on
the first day, i.e. Fat Saturday evening, starts with a mammoth procession
of floats of a variegated pageant of colour and gaiety, headed by King Momo.
In the three days of celebrations, cultural functions and competitions abound,
and are judged by specially selected people. King Momo distributes the prizes
to the winners.
The contestants wear colorful costumes and elaborate masks. In the fun-filled ambience, people smear colour on each other, instead of flour, eggs, fruit and water that were used in earlier times. 'Cocotes' meaning stuffed cartridges, used to be thrown in a spirit of mirthful mock battles by rival groups in the old days, which left the roads littered with coloured powder. The young would defend themselves with card board shields from the chaff filled bombs thrown by opposite groups. Crackers explode with gay abandon, with decorations galore, and coloured streamers being flown everywhere. A local troubadour or a group of masqueraders impersonate as hawkers, fortune tellers and women; children run wild, banging on drums in the form of tins, while the elder ones move out in funny costumes. The most important item of the Carnival celebrations was the play-cum-dance-song of 'Mussoll'.
Some five-star clubs and hotels hold dances during the Carnival days beginning with Sabado Gordo in Goa where revelers appear in gaudy costumes and masks and let their hair down in gay abandon, with booze and carousing galore. Mimicry and impersonations of local characters are enacted and it is all fun and frolic for every one. Carnival festivities go on in full swing and continue late into the night and morning of Wednesday, when the period of Lent, the spell of penance, begins with Ash Wednesday. It concludes with the red and black ball held usually at the club National, Panaji. This festival attract visitors from all over India and abroad.
Air :Nearest Airport is Dabolim Airport situated 30-km from the capital, Panjim. Direct charter flights from the main European countries and domestic flights from Mumbai, Bangalore, Kochi, Delhi, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram are available.
Rail : Nearest Railway Station is in Vasco-da-Gama a city 30km from Panjim. The rail lines connect Panjim to Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and New Delhi.
Road : Ordinary and luxury buses run by State Kadamba Transport Corporation, operate from the bus stand in Patto, 1km east of Panjim.
Festivals - Goa