Viva Carnival, Goa

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What started as a celebration introduced by the Portuguese settlers in Goa, has turned into an annual traditional that draws crowds from all over the world. Celebrated in the month of February, it marks the beginning of Lent. It is held for four days, with a new location every day within Goa. I got to witness the carnival on the first day at Panji, the capital of Goa.

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Performers from Cape Town added their own flavour to the Goa Carnival
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Getting my colorful mode on at the carnival!

Goa is like a second home to me. However, I hadn’t experienced the Goa Carnival for all these years! A spontaneous decision just a day before the Carnival had me booking tickets and packing my bags. Goa at the time of the Carnival gets really crowded, however I was lucky enough to get tickets and a place to stay. All those warnings about not getting tickets at the last minute are not meant to be taken seriously at all, there is always some way and some place that will take you, if you are adaptable enough.

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Marking the beginning of the parade with this grand float showing a typical masquerade that is sported at Carnivals throughout the world
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King Momo leads the parade

The carnival was a parade of colorful colors. It started with a float having the customary King Momo marking the start of the parade. Floats, bands, dances are accompanied by live music that locals and foreigners enjoy just as much! The parade highlights the culture of Goa with floats dedicated to showcase the everyday life of Goans and their occupation. Artists from Liverpool and Cape Town were also invited to be a part of the carnival, and they added their own flavour to the event, making it even more special. Because of this mix, I got to see traditional dresses of the Goans as well as exuberant carnival attire!

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Samba dancers from Liverpool color the streets of Panji

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Goa’s football Team, ‘FC Goa’ parade with enthusiasm and pride

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Goa’s local culture and its traditional wear was showcased at the Carnival

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A float showing the Goan Parsi culture
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The Goa police played an important role at the Carnival, they were the heroes of the day!

Where does this happen? Goa, with a new location on all four days, starting with Panji, the capital.

When does it happen? In the month of February-March, before the start of Lent

What are the timings? 4pm – 7pm

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Vendors sell a variety of carnival accessories, be sure to get one and dress for the occasion!

It is not just the floats and dances that one should look out for though. To get the real feel of the carnival, look around. Look at the streets, you’ll see how different people enjoy the carnival in their own way. You’ll see vendors dressed in all the accessories they are selling. If you look up, you’ll see people climbing trees and getting onto balconies to get the best view of the parade. You just might spot something interesting! A carnival is all about people, after all!

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A father lovingly helps his daughter put on a masquerade mask
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A kid enjoys the carnival in every way possible – front row, a Mohawk wig and candy!

What to wear? Wear your most colorful ensembles for this event! Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as you might have to stand and walk around for the whole duration of the carnival. Masks, hats, headbands and all sort of crazy accessories can be purchased from the vendors at the carnival. Make sure to buy these as they make for perfect carnival pictures and make your outfit carnival appropriate!

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They make sure you don’t go hungry during the carnival!
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A couple enjoying the carnival
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A group of boys climb up a tree to get a good view of the carnival
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A minion dance towards the closing of the carnival
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A fish entirely made from sea waste – plastic bottles, cans and the like

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People flock buildings and climb up structures to get the best view possible! Parents pick their little kids up so they can see everything too!

Its best to ask the locals for any information that you might need about the carnival. Finding the exact times, starting locations was a little tough to find online.

DSC_0155Floats showing Goa’s fauna were also seen. This one shows the Indian porcupine.

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Crowds look on a man performs stunts on his bike

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Performers dance to live music through the streets! You can’t help but dance when them.

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The Goa Carnival saw a lot of social messages as well – Staying away from drugs, recycling, preventing the cutting of trees, and as seen here, avoiding a rat race and helping everyone grow with you.

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A float showing the food shacks lining the Goan coastline
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Move your feet to the Goan Music

If you want to soak in some Goan music and culture along with the sun the next summer, keep Goa Carnival on your list. You won’t be disappointed.

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