Even as Goa awaits with bated breath for the state assembly election verdict on March 11, the state’s residents get their ‘legitimate’ opportunity to let their hair down during the much anticipated Carnival festival starting from Saturday.
The festival, marked by its colourful float parades, will first hit the streets of the state capital Panaji on Saturday, before moving on to other towns like Margao, Vasco and Mapusa.
The parade will be led by King Momo, a larger than life ceremonial king selected by a local Carnival committee, who offers to each city a symbolic key to celebration. King Momo for 2017 is 65-year-old Roque Fernandes, a portly resident of Panaji, who has performed the role four times in the past.
“I love Goa, I love to be King Momo and I am all set to enthral Goa and all visitors to the state for the four-day Carnival celebrations,” Fernandes told IANS.
Goa’s colourful Carnival processions, which are normally held in February before the holy season of Lent, are symbolic of Goa’s colonial Portuguese legacy.
For the week prior to the austere Christian season of Lent, Goa celebrates one last shot at having fun before the liquor bottles and meat is shunned as part of a 40-day period of religious penitence. Lent concludes with the celebration of Easter.
According to the state tourism department, in addition to maintaining the traditional and cultural essence of Carnival, the focus this year will also be on “weeding out non eco-friendly floats, polluting junk vehicles and a total crackdown on indecency”.
According to Goa Tourism Director Sanjeev Gauns Dessai, the Carnival is one of the most important festivals on the state’s tourism calendar.
“It has its unique Goan touch blended with its traditional culture and heritage. This unique festivity brings in a lot of excitement with live songs, music and dance that is uniquely Goan. People throng to Goa for the carnival every year which is the only event of its kind held in India,” he said.
“The Carnival will see more focus on the cultural aspects and efforts will be put in to minimise commercialisation of floats. It has been decided that polluting vehicles in the junk car category would not be allowed in the parade,” Dessai added.