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'Intruz' or the famous Goan carnival is held for 3 to 4 days in the month of February every year. Carnival means 'to take away meat'. This is fitting as the carnival is celebrated before the month of Lent - the Roman Catholic period of penance - as this Carnival has its origin in the Catholic Portuguese colonial past. The strumming notes of the guitars, gaily-decorated tableaus and floats alongside the enticing rhythm and dancing mark the festivity of the Goan carnival.
History of the Goa carnival
The legendary King Momo (these days, a person is elected to take over as the King for the 3 days) takes to the streets and the entire state comes alive with music and color. During his rule of the colonies, King Momo ordered his subjects to party from the opening day. King Momo is also known as King of Chaos.
The Portuguese who established their colony in Goa introduced the carnival to Goa. The Goa carnival is an integral aspect of the Portuguese heritage in Goa. The Portuguese started this carnival as a fun-filled bawdy game. People would fling gloves filled with flour, eggs, lemon, orange, mud, sand and dirty water at passersby. People threw out pots, old pans, kitchen utensils out of the window as a symbolic gesture of discarding the old and dirty before Lent. Lavish feasts, cakes and pastries were distributed. Though many of the rituals have been dropped or modified these days, the spirit of the festival continues.
These days, people smear color on each other. People participating in the event wear colored costumes and elaborate masks. The music and dance performances are composed and choreographed by the locals, replete with the history of Goa. Mock battles are carried out with packets and cartridges filled with husk, bran, sawdust and the like.
The carnival marks the beginning of the forty day period of Lent. However the spirit of the festival has lured people from all religions to celebrate it with equal fervor. Today it is representative of Goan culture rather than being a religious event. This carnival epitomizes the merry making culture of Goa. The streets of Goa come alive with zealous and enthusiastic people. Nights turn colorful with floats, processions, colorful lights, music, dance and non-stop festivity. The lavish floats are the highlight of the festival. Floats depict popular lullabies and nursery rhymes. Cultural functions and competitions are held during the week.
You can hear cymbals, bagpipers or even Roman music. People dance to the tunes of old Roman numbers. The area often resembles scenes from fairy tales; fortune tellers, dancers, fireworks and more. The conclusion of the carnival is marked by the famous red and black dance. The largest celebration takes place in Panaji, the capital city of Goa.
The villages of Goa celebrate the carnival with a different spirit. Villagers sit around an oil lamp as they shake to the beat of the drums. They sing songs in praise of their ancestors.
Goa carnival 2013
Though the carnival is celebrated only for 3 days, the preparations begin much in advance. In 2013, Goa carnival is to be celebrated from 9th to 12th of February. You need to make your reservations well in advance as tourists flock to Goa around this season.
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