Goa Carnival 2020
· Easy Activity
Time to visit:
Sat – Tue
6-8 hrs. (suggested)
22nd to 25th Feb
20°C – 30°C
Panjim, Margao, Ponda, Vasco, Curchorem, Mapusa and Morjim
Just like carnival in Rio di Janeiro a person from the state is chosen to play King Momo, who becomes the official King of Carnival. Goa Carnival starts with King Momo leading the parade on a magnificent float surrounded by an entourage of musicians, dancers, acrobats, clowns and other entertainers.
Courtesy: Joviton Dcosta
King Momo declares that the decree of carnival is “Kha, Piye, Aani Majja Kar”, which means in this order eat, drink and be merry. After this announcement, the celebration begins and the whole city erupts into joy.
Parade in Panjim will commence around 3pm on the 22nd of February 2020 and will move towards Miramar arriving several hours later. The length of the river road will be marshalled off to allow people to view. Various areas will be sectioned off for paid viewing with buffet and drinks.
The parade usually begins on Fat Saturday evening with a procession headed by King Momo. Balloons, horse-drawn carriages, decorated bullock carts and elaborate floats are the highlights of the parade. The festivities during Goa Carnival include dancing troupes, revelers wearing masks and costumes, live music, sports competitions, floats & parades, and food and drinking.
In the urban areas, individual float parades were held in the Goan cities and towns of Panjim, Margao, Ponda, Vasco, Curchorem, Mapusa and Morjim.
The origins of Goa Carnival are based on the Catholic tradition of Mardi Gras. Having a celebration which includes partying and large consumptions of food and drink before the 40 days of sacrifice and fasting that occurs during Lent.
Goa Carnival was brought to India by the Portuguese settlers during the time they ruled over the area some 500 years ago. In the beginning of Goa Carnival, the carnival was more about Portuguese culture and traditions but as time went on the carnival evolved and became more about Goan culture.
If you love Indian food, then you will love Goa carnival. An important tradition during carnival is that all the hotels and restaurants must prepare their absolute best most mouth-watering fish and meat dishes of the year!
Extra effort goes into sourcing the highest quality ingredients. There are so many different delicious dishes to try. Whether you feel like something sweet or spicy, there are delicacies for all taste buds!
Ridiculous folk plays are put on during carnival that are full of sarcasm and mockery. An interesting Goa Carnival tradition is that Assoltes which are the performers in these plays, will visit their friends’ houses in costumes and makeup and play pranks on them. Once the friend realises, they are being pranked they are required to entertain the performers with drinks and snacks.
Another old Goa Carnival tradition sees Goanese people throwing their old kitchen utensils out of their kitchen windows, which is done when the parade walks by. These is because of an old Christian tradition which required people to clean their houses before Easter.
Another Goa Carnival tradition is that people get into playful fights throwing bright colours at each other which is very similar to the Holi Festival. During carnival people used to throw eggs, flour and dyes at each other but this has since been replaced with bright colourful powders.
Goa Carnival finishes with the famous red and black dance. This is a popular colour-coordinated dance sees women dressed in red tops and black skirts, while the men dress in red shirts and black pants. They dance in a procession along with large musical bands.
In most parts of Goa Carnival, tickets are not needed, there is no entry fee – all you have to do is show up and join in the celebration! Everyone is welcome with open arms to join the celebrations. The procession is free to watch and most of the fun and excitement happens out on the streets.
Note: In Panjim, various areas will be sectioned off for paid viewing with buffet and drinks.
Goa has Dabolim airport in Vasco da Gama which is about 25km away from the states capital city Panjim. The airport connects with multiple cities all over the country and a few international destinations including Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Dubai, Kuwait, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Jaipur, Pune, and Chandigarh. The majority of international flights around the world go direct to Mumbai.
You can reach Goa from any of the metropolitans by road. There is also an excellent bus network in India with intrastate and interstate bus services. It is well connected by road to important Indian cities like Mumbai (604 km), Bangalore (562 km), Pune (461 km), Hubli (155 km), Kolhapur (234 km), Mysore (617 km), Shirdi (630 km) and Mahabaleshwar (407 km).
Actually it is a very breathtaking car drive from Mumbai to Goa and an experience of its own. The Western Ghats will hypnotise you with its eternal charm for the whole 12 hours journey down NH4.
Goa has many railway stations namely Madgaon (37 km away from the capital Panjim), Vasco Da Gama (28 km away from Panjim), Thivim (24 km away), Karmali (13 km away) that all connect to different major cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Lucknow and Jaipur all with a huge network of trains.
There are many cruises which provide boat services from Mumbai to Panaji or you can opt for a ferry services which can also be an excellent experience.
Some travel advice for attending Goa Carnival is to plan and book your journey early because it is the busiest time of year! Planes, trains and buses are all booked and fill up in advance. For last minute travel the buses are usually your best bet.
The same goes for getting around during Goa Carnival, the city streets of major towns are filled with people and floats, so you may have getting around if you have specific destinations you are trying to reach. Just speak to your hotel who will be able to provide you with good advice to get around.
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