Margao: The Carnival festivities that begun in Panjim on Valentine’s Day, 14 February 2015, followed in the towns of Margao, Vasco and concluded in Mapusa- on the inaugural day King Momo Geovani Bossco Santimano proclaimed the decree of fun and merriment for four days, which ended on Tuesday, 17 February. It may have been yet another year of cliched floats but themes varied from aspects of science to environment to sports. Others with animated dancers, masquerading characters with spectacular costumes, accompanied by dancing and music were cheered by the tourists and locals who lined up the parade route, where over 100 floats made their way into the respective cities. And the best part this year for me to witness all the four float parades at four different cities was that I got a free three nights and four days stay at JS Palms & Resort in Candolim near Calangute- which was offered to me and my friends by Michael Rego, owner of Eco-Village/2 Acres, Mangaluru and John, partner of JS Palms Resort – Thanks- a-million to Michael and John.
On the inaugural day- 14 February, the King Momo along with his entourage led the float parade through the streets of Panjim-the capital city of Goa, amidst huge crowds. In terms of just numbers, the Carnival was a grand success, with people lining the Arterial Road, hanging out from balconies and trees, and mingling in the festivities organized at Samba Square, Mercedes Ground and the various watering holes in and around Panjim. The Carnival float was fagged off by Chief Secretary Kewal Sharma. The parade of nearly 75 floats kicked off at around 4pm, with a rally of Harley Davidson’s and super-bikes roaring through the city, followed by a band playing the bagpipes, to herald King Momo’s unicorn-powered float. King Momo and his two princesses probably rode the best-looking float of the day.
The traditional floats from South Goa, depicting rural farming practices, kitchen implements and dying professions like pottery were well-appreciated by the crowd. There were quite a few stark contradictions as well- a float championing the cause of feminism, displaying slogans against gender discrimination, sexual harassment and molestation was blaring out hip-hop songs with lyrics that would make any feminist’s toes curl. The motley collection of giant roosters and fish, mermaids and sea horses, porcupines, and dragons were very popular among the younger members of the audience. There were quite a few recycled narakasuras as well. The city witnessed traffic jams at various places-but luckily me and my friends wading through the congested traffic, made it to the venue well in time to witness the parade.
Large tableaux depicting environment, music, culture, traditions of Goa accompanied by young and old, danced to the pulsating beats from Goan bands. Yes the Carnival was fun as usual, a lot of fun but I am not so sure about this new trend of people wearing scary masks. I saw three grim reapers wearing burqas and scores of people wearing monster-masks. There were also at least a two dozen men in drag costumes and padded underwear making offensive, sexiest gestures. I
wish they realized that the Carnival audience was filled with family and kids. Oh well ! Meanwhile, on the other side of the parade road, was a rowdy revelers armed with water guns and beer bottles, took the party mood up a notch by throwing a revolting mixture of color, eggs, urak ( feni) and beer on passers-by. Viva Carnival indeed, but not for the fainthearted.
Viva Carnaval ! On the second day of Carnival 2015, it was King Momo’s sway over the state’s commercial capital-Margao, as music rent the air, fun and frolic spilled onto the streets , and revelers made merry as the City played host to the Carnival float parade organized by the Margoa Municipal Council (MMC) and the state’s department of tourism. Margao witnessed a mix of tradition and creativity in the tableau’s which were presented at the parade that consisted of 107 floats in various categories. Thematic floats depicting social issues and public causes were the hallmark of the parade. It wasn’t just Bollywood and the oh-so-skinny young King Momo that caught eye at the Carnival this year -Be it pom-poms, becoming a human green vegetable or taking a symbolic dump on the environment, some floats got super-creative this year.
The ‘social message’ floats were equally eyeball-grabbing. The parade saw floats on the themes of cleanliness highlighting Swachh Bharat campaign, on unity with Konkan Railway putting up a float showing replicas of a temple, church and Mosque. On environment, floats came out with message of saving the tiger and locally grown fruits and vegetables. In a bold initiative, a float showed a bullfight and how it inflicts cruelty on the fighter bulls. There was one on India’s Mars mission- Mangalyaan II showing the achievements of Indian space scientists. The Margoa Municipal Council’s Carnival committee had worked in tandem with others to make this Carnival a grand and successful one. 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.
The float parade was followed by a short formal programme held at the Municipal Square. Prizes were distributed to the winners in the contests. A band in attendance kept the crowd grooving and jiving. “Festa De Leques” trust put up their fabulous ’60th Grand Carnival Dance’ featuring Goa’s best bands namely ‘The Fore Front’ and ‘Tidal Wave’ at Sinquetim/Navelim-Goa. Last year I remember, the police stormed the place at around 11pm and forced the dance party to stop- but this year it seems like the cops had taken it lightly o the organizers, where we partied till the wee hours of 3am- great music performance by the bands- Tidal Wave and The Forefront.
Third day it was Carnival Fiesta fun at Vasco- thousands of revelers including locals and tourists descended on the Swatantra Path and other internal roads of Vasco to witness the colorful Carnival parade, organized by the the Vasco Carnival committee. The Carnival float parade was kicked off by Minister Avertano Furtado along with other VIPs. King Momo read the decree of fun and frolic in the presence of Queen Neha Maria Pinto. There were about 50 floats, depicting various themes and life.
On the fourth Day, the Carnival floats made their way through the streets of Mapusa. King Momo waved to the crowds from his exalted position on the lead float, flanked by the Carnival Queen and Princess i their flowing sequinned dresses. The floats accompanied by pulsating music, were cheered on by locals and tourists, who crammed the city for the decibel-defying annual spectacle. Joining all the floats and the crazy characters were the revelers- Goans down on holiday, and even tourists. People were even seen perched on trees and rooftops to catch the best view. They turned up in bright masks, crazy wigs and all sorts of costumes.
Mummies, mermaids, robots, pirates, and aliens roamed the streets too! This year’s floats covered an extensive range of topics, from cricket and football to the more serious ones, such as saving the girl child by not opting for abortion, and wildlife conservation. King Momo issued the royal decree, among screams of excitement and the evenings were rounded up with whole lot of music and dancing. Added to the floats, there was also ancient Goan, the farmer , and, even the “Goemchem Mana”, who showcased authentic Goan and even suggested Goan alcohol as a cure to cold.
As I have been to many Goan Carnivals for the last so many years, but I feel that there is not much improvement in the floats or arrangements every year, not to mention, even this year, the arrangements were horrible. People were walking right in middle of the float path, and the cops did absolutely nothing. Even the Goans whom I talked to expressed their disappointment at the predictability of the whole show. The extremely slow movement of the floats and the music of different floats clashed with one another also left many impatient and disappointed. Many revelers ( including mine) opined that the government ought to concentrate on the quality of floats and have a screening process where floats which are not up to the mark are knocked out in a pre-Carnival parade, and not focus only the arrangements alone. Hoping to see a better and well-organized Carnival next year.
And as always “Mangalurgars” had a nice time partying with “Goankars” at the Carnival – Me and my friends bumped into many folks from Kudla. It’s no doubt that Mangaloreans like to party-and when there is nothing much of fun and frolic taking place here 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. And this year quite a few Mangaloreans were seen at the Goa Carnival 2015, where they enjoyed the beauty and fun of Goa, along with music, dance, cocktails and authentic Goan cuisine.
As Mangaloreans know, food and drink are huge draws in Goa – While seafood, feni and pungent Goan sausages are on almost every travel itinerary, there was much more on offer at the Food and Culture Festival, organized by Goa Tourism as a precursor to Goa Carnival 2015. The free entry meant that visitors poured in to participate in the festivities, and off course we were there, because free is always better, fun and merrier. From seafood grills to pork sorpotel, from kebabs to biriyani, from iced drinks to sinful desserts, everything was on sale at the food festival. Aromas competed in the cool evening air and the dressed-up stalls offered a feast for the senses. While carnivores gorged for joy, a few mollified vegetarians could be seen secretly tucking into something fleshy on this night of sin.
Goan bands namely The Cascades, Tidal wave, The Forefront, A26, Archies, Alcatraz, and my favorite band, The Syndicate were all great and rocked the show at the various dance events. An band from Argentina also rocked at the Samba Square Carnival party in Panjim. The popular “Black & Red” Carnival Dance at Panjim was awesome as always, but this year held at a different venue. Although there were some hassles created by the cops when the party went on beyond the curfew time of 11pm, other than that everyone had one heckuva time at the Carnival 2015. Viva Carnaval ! Viva Goa !- where fun never stops.