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Goan Carnival Festival

Goa is the queen of beaches and it’s one of the major tourist destinations in the country. The beach state attracts many tourists all round the year. Tourists come here to experience the lively Goan traditions and culture.

The Goan Carnival is an eagerly awaited event and it’s usually held for 3 to 4 days. During the days and nights of the Goa Carnival, there is a great amount of zeal and zest among the people. The streets come alive with colours, lively processions, floats, the strumming of guitars, colourful parades, graceful dances and non-stop festivity before the 40 day abstinence period of Lent before Easter.

Started by the Portuguese rulers, the Carnival has carved a niche for itself with a distinctive characteristic charm that can only be experienced in this tiny coastal state of Goa. Though in essence, it is a Christian festival, all people of Goa, irrespective of their faith and religion take part in this festival.


Carnival means a complete holiday dedicated to fun and enjoying as a break from the daily routine and stress of the every-day life. The word 'carnival' is originated from a Latin word 'carnelevarium' meaning 'removing the flesh' or 'raising a gala storm'.

The history of the Goan carnival goes back to almost 500 years. It is a legacy of Portuguese which is preserved till date. It became popular to the Portuguese and Spanish people with time and when the Portuguese established their colony in Goa, they introduced the concept there. Ever since, the carnival is celebrated every year. People all over Goa participate in it with pleasure.

Originally, the Goa carnival was introduced and organized as a noisy and loud rowdy celebration, which was not famous for its celebrations. For three days, all the people of Goa used to gorge themselves on food. Endless lavish feasts, cakes and pastries were distributed by convents.  

Goan Carnival was decomposing during the end of the Portuguese rule, but was rejuvenated with the freeing of Goa. Today, though many rituals have dropped and many modified but the spirit of the carnival still reins in its true essence.

The Goa Carnival is an integral part of the Portuguese heritage of the state, which was a dominion of Portugal till 1961. The carnival epitomizes the fun-loving culture that is characteristic of Goa. It was introduced by the erstwhile rulers as a rowdy celebration in which rowdies threw flour, eggs, oranges, lemons, mud, sand-filled gloves along with dirty water, various liquids and glue at passersby. Used pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils were also thrown out of windows. Perhaps this was done to discard the old and the dirty before the Lenten fast.

Fierce battles were waged in the streets, with plaster-of-Paris eggs, wax lemons, corncobs and beans. Blows were dealt out liberally, with brooms and wooden spoons. It was also an occasion for unchecked eating. People gorged on rich food at lavish feasts, and convents distributed cakes and pastries.

This theme still prevails in the recent day Goa carnival; a king of clutter and chaos is selected before the festival and is named King Momo. He presides over the three day festivities and organizes the festival.

The carnival in Goa still retains the core of the original. A King of Chaos is elected, called King "Momo". He presides over the three-day festivities, which attract visitors from all over India and abroad.


The Goa Carnival is probably the funkiest festival of India. King Momo introduced Goa Carnival just before the Lent season of the Christian calendar. According to Christianity, Lent is the 40-day period of fasting and penance before the Easter Sunday meant to purify one's soul.

The carnival is held in February for three days and nights, when the legendary king Momo takes over the state and the streets come alive with music and colour. The festival witnesses a lot of zeal and zest by the Goan people; the streets are extravagantly decorated and come to life with all the procession, music, graceful dances and merrymaking.

Preparations for three days of enjoyment, enjoyment and enjoyment begin at least three months in advance. The entire state is decorated with streamers and colourful ribbons and papers.

A play cum dance song of Mussol is a special attraction. Those who perform during the carnival, rehearse for the plays to be enacted. Goan people compose and choreograph themselves all the songs and dance performances.

The costumes and dresses are vibrant and colourful. The unique headgears will surely capture your fancy at once. Boys and girls start preparing by designing their costumes. They also have to prepare for the mock battle. They fill packets and cartridges made of paper with bran, husk or sawdust or plain powder to use in the mock battles. All geared up, by the eve of the carnival, the excitement runs so high in the blood that anyone can barely sleep at night.

Once the carnival begins, Goa is in a different mood altogether. The carnival starts with a magnificent display of colourful floats. There is a riot of colours on the street when the procession comes in its true form, all geared up with sparkling floats and troupes of masked revelers.

On the opening day of the carnival, King Momo presides over the festival and "orders" his subjects to party and indulge in merry making. The next three days are marked by celebration of the Goan culture. The mornings are dominated with singing, feasting and organizing street plays while the evenings are usually full of dancing, balls, etc. on the wide open streets.

The celebrations are also accompanied by a prize distribution ceremony, where the best floats and winners of various competitions are satisfactorily rewarded by the king. Adding to the colours, all the Goan people coat each others’ faces with various colours as a part of the fun. At the origination of the Goan carnival, flour and eggs were used instead of the colours.

All the Goa becomes a party zone, girls flaunting frills and boys their cowboy hats. There are people who wear masks which resembles nursery rhyme characters as well as cartoons.

Massive colourful parades take over the state's cities with bands, floats and dances, while the evenings are dedicated to partying at whatever place the person is. Fireworks, fortune tellers, children forming their own musical orchestra, elder ones in funny costumes, these are just few scenes you will spot.

The Carnival comes to an end with the well-liked red-and-black dance held by the Club National in Panjim. One thing that never stops during three days of galore is the music.

Goa carnival is today a merriment and representation of Goa culture. To put to words the entire carnival is difficult; you have to see it to feel the buzz in the air. Although it is mainly a Christian festival, it is celebrated by people of all religions and culture with the similar interest and keenness.

Floats, colossal parades, bands, balls and dances together symbolize the Goa Carnival. Goa Carnival is festival that is conquered by pleasure, enjoyment and merry making where individuals come together and spread joyfulness and happiness.


Blue Hazed Surf

Goans stir up some delightful cocktails around the time of the festival. One of these is the Blue Hazed Surf, which is a mix of coconut feni, Malibu and Blue Curacao treated with coconut water.

Green Envy

Another favourite drink with the Goans, this is a kiwi-based drink that also uses coconut feni along with black pepper corns.

Goa Crab Cake

This seafood delicacy is served as a starter at the festival. It’s served with fresh tomato chutney.

Grilled Duck Peri Peri

This old-fashioned Goan curry is always a treat. It’s made with Supreme of Barbary Duck marinated in thick spices, potato and curry leaf

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