Goa Carnival 2021 Kicks Off in Panjim & Revelers Flout Covid-19 Norms to be Merry

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Goa Carnival 2021 Kicks Off in Panjim & Revelers Flout Covid-19 Norms to be Merry

  •  Goa Carnival 2021 Kicks Off in Panjim & Revelers Flout Covid-19 Norms- Yours Truly of Team Mangalorean interacted with bunch of Mangaloreans at the Carnival parade who wanted to break free from the Covid-19 torture they had encountered for the last few months, being stranded inside their homes

Panjim-Goa: This year the Goa Carnival was different from the earlier ones, as the floats were less and lots of restrictions in regards to the pandemic were enforced by the government, however, Goa is one of the few places where organised carnival celebrations, in particular float parades, took place this year. Masked revellers were aplenty as King Momo trundled down the streets of Panjim on Saturday evening and read out his decree declaring three-days of fun and frolic. Cheering him on were a few locals and groups of tourists, and for a change on Carnival day, a significant number of them were masked. This year perhaps saw the highest number of masks on people at the Carnival, and thousands were distributed free. But the masks were not carnivalesque in nature. They were meant to cover the mouth and the nose to keep the Coronavirus away. Many had them on in that manner, others had pulled it down to the chin.

Carnival descended upon Goa in the midst of a pandemic that a few months ago would not have been thought possible. Most cities across the world, including the BIGGEST carnival in Rio de Janeiro-Brazil have cancelled the carnival float parades, though many have permitted low-key celebrations, however, Goa is one of the few places where organised carnival celebrations – float parades in particular – are taking place this year. Goa decided that it would celebrate carnival in the usual manner despite the pandemic- a very good move by the chief minister, tourism minister and other cabinet members. And Chief minister of Goa Pramod Pandurang Sawant and Goa Tourism minister Manoahr Aigaonkar had the privilege to flag off the Carnival Parade 2021 in Panjim on 13 February 2021.

Revellers threw caution to the winds and made a mockery of Covid-19 norms as they turned up in thousands to attend Carnival in Panjim, the first government-organised tourism festival in the state post-lockdown. The pandemic norms which were supposed to be followed were laughable, as there was no social distancing and very, very few wore masks. Ironically, the opening float, led by King Momo, promoted the Covid vaccine while around it, people gathered in hundreds to capture an image of the festival monarch. Police personnel monitoring the event did precious little to impose social distancing or any kind of order. With the state being open to tourism, a sizable number of “vloggers” or “influencers” were seen walking around, trying to capture images of the various tableaux, with some interacting with the dancers.

Team Mangalorean ran into a few “Mangalurgars” who were having a nice time partying with “Goenkars” at the Carnival – It’s no doubt that Mangaloreans like to party-and when there is nothing much of fun and frolic taking place in the coastal city, Mangaloreans look for any other destination where they could enjoy to the best of life-and Goa is one such destination that party lovers of Mangaluru like to go and get into a revelry mood.Speaking to Team Mangalorean, Sudarshan Shetty from Kundapur said, “For years I have been hearing of Goa Carnival, and wanted to witness it, and today is the FIRST time I made it for the carnival and it’s truly amazing, fun and merrymaking. Glad I am here with my friends and will make the best use of the three days stay in Goa”. Ms Sheryl John and her family from Mangaluru, who has been at the Goa carnivals 7-8 times said, “I was not worried about the fear of pandemic since we have already the boredom spree for the last few months, and I wanted to get out of Mangaluru and enjoy the goodness that Goa has to offer. Viva carnaval, baby!”.

Solo cosplayers that walked along the parade were also often stopped by parents of toddlers, insisting that they click a selfie with their little ones. In most instances, while the parents wore masks, the children did not. The parade floats this year hit closer to home than usual, with tableaux featuring coconut pluckers, fisherfolk, cane weavers, potters, and feni distillers, besides festivals like Sao João. Floats with social messages such as no smoking, road safety, environmentalism and breast cancer awareness also featured in the Carnival parade. From Covid-themed floats to those on nature, there was a good variety this year, and for a change the government didn’t allow any commercial and unwanted floats this year,which was a good move.

The carnival parade witnessed a mix of tradition and creativity in the tableaux which were presented at the parade that consisted of floats in various categories. I feel that it’s a good platform to bring awareness through these floats and give out a social message, since most of the floats were quite educational which could give a message to the locals, tourists and also those in authority in various civic departments. The traditional floats depicting Goa’s well maintained traditions attracted the attention of the mammoth crowd. As the crowd on the road shoulders swelled , the police personnel had a tough time in controlling them. The cops forcibly brought down some revelers who had climbed to the top of the trees in the city to avoid any untoward incidents.

In a spine-chilling display of the need to save the forests, one float featured a larger than life statue of a malnourished human breathing oxygen through a ventilator attached to a plant. Behind him, instead of dancers, walked a procession of mourners who had similarly strapped themselves to plant vases to breathe clean air from. Yet another drew attention towards black panthers, bringing attention to the dwindling numbers of the majestic creature. There was an important message behind these particular floats. While development is essential, it need not be at the cost of forests and wildlife. And the best part was that this year, the event wound up earlier than usual this year with its fewer floats, around 32 of them. Viva Carnival! And yes Viva Carnaval 2021! Viva Goa !- where fun never stops.

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