Viva Goa Carnival 2022! Huge Crowd in Panjim & Margao Enjoyed Tableaux, Fun & Frolic
Panjim/Margao: Local Goan identifiers took centre stage at the Panaji Carnival parade on Saturday with a range of traditions and ongoing social issues being highlighted in the procession.The Goan khaje or kadio-bodio, which received the Geographical Indication (GI) tag, was featured at the Panaji Carnival. Traditional khajekars displayed a live demo of the sweet’s preparation and also handed out freshly made kadio-bodio to Carnival attendees. Other popular edibles like the Goan pork chourico (sausage), kharrem (dry fish) and biyyo (cashew seeds) were also showcased in the procession.
A festival float highlighting pandemic awareness was followed by a series of placards displaying messages on masking, social distancing and hand-washing. It also saw a placard with chief minister Pramod Sawant’s famously uttered statement “Bhivpachi Garaz Naa” leaving spectators amused. The Mollem campaign seems to have had a significant impact on the festival floats over the past two years. While the issue was not directly highlighted, this edition had a number of floats that featured the message of afforestation, environmental conservation and the urgency to save wild animals.
Kunbi dances, Corrodinho and Konkani songs blasting off floats left spectators in awe of the display of Goa’s traditional dances and music.The festival parade kickstarted on Saturday,26 February in Panjim, the capital city of Goa,after over an hour’s delay, followed by parade in Margao on Sunday, 27 Febraury. The parade was scheduled to be flagged off at 3.30pm in Panjim, but spectators were left waiting in the heat of the afternoon for the fleet of tableaux to be showcased.
King Momo proclaimed a decree of fun and merriment for the Carnival. The opening tableaux leading with King Momo was escorted by a convoy of the Goa police’s Pink Force.
TV show characters from OTT platforms proved to be a popular favourite at this edition of the Carnival as well. Participants dressed as Squid Games characters evoked exciting responses from the spectators, especially from tourists. Last year, it was characters from Money Heist dressed in jumpsuits and Salvador Dali masks that evoked similar enthusiasm. Social messages highlighting water shortage, deforestation and plastic littering also saw a return to the float parade this year. This year’s entries saw some repetitions from last year’s floats with the living man statue, the statue of Liberty and roaring wild animals’ tableaux participating yet again.
While the float parade was lacklustre for the average Goan visitor, tourists appeared to be making the most of the colourful visual spectacle. However, caution was thrown to the wind as many of the Carnival attendees moved through the festival route without wearing a mask. 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 plentiful 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.
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. To name a few Mangalureans who were partying at the carnival were Loy D’souza ( M D’souza Caterers) , along with his friends- Ajith with his wife Ms Yamini and children, Manash and Miss Mansi from Marnamikatta, Dolphy and Maxim from Bajpe; Clifford and Family from Urwa, Joseph D’silva and family from Kalianpur, among many others.
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 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. And the best part was that this year, the event wound up earlier than usual this year with fewer floats. Viva Carnival! Viva Carnaval 2022! Viva Goa !