India’s smallest state and the most significant party capital, Goa, is a paradise for everyone who loves a good tropical vacation. Marked by picturesque beaches, ancient churches, Portuguese-style architectural buildings, forts and natural excursions, the state keeps its patrons occupied with all things good. Besides an expansive coastline, Goa is also enriched with an extensive history and rich cultural heritage that its residents and tourists love. One such event, reminiscent of the state’s history, is the annual Goa Carnival that takes place every year in February.
Goa Carnival Festival is known by various other names, including Viva Carnival, Entrada, Carnaval and Intruz. Started by the Portuguese who presided over Goa for more than 500 years, the Goa Carnival is a three-day celebration full of dance, music, good food, parades and other revelries. Earlier, this festival was predominantly celebrated only by the catholic community of the state. However, over the years, all distinct communities came together to revel in the festivities and participate in the various rituals during the Carnival.
Start Date: 18 February 2023
End Date: 21 February 2023
Venue: Mapusa, Panjim, Margao and Vasco
Carnival Goa: Dates
Goa Carnival 2023 starts on 18 February and ends on 21 February. The celebrations will primarily occur in these 4 locations – Mapusa, Panjim, Margao and Vasco.
Also Read: Things To Do In South Goa
Goa Carnival Festival: Significance and History
While some people believe that the Goa Carnival Festival marks the end of winter and the beginning of the spring season, others consider this festival to signify the ancient pagan rituals that honoured the gods of nature, wine and fertility.
Viva Carnival starts before 40 days of Lent, which is marked by fasting and abstinence from meat. Lent, which ends on Easter, is an integral part of the catholic religion. However, the Goa Carnival also extends to the ancient pagan culture that dates back to the feasts of Apollo in Greece and Roman Saturnalia. The festivities also resemble the Mardi Gras festival of New Orleans and the Rio Carnival of Brazil. The festival now exhibits the culmination of different cultures within the state, and people from all over the world come to witness this exciting merriment.
While the festival’s beginnings remain ambiguous, it is celebrated with much zeal and enthusiasm. The Carnaval is presided over by King Momo and his consort, chosen from the state’s people participating in the festival. In Latin America, especially in Columbia and Brazil, King Momo is considered the king of Carnivals and his concept is derived from the Greek God Momus. In Goa, the king’s appearance marks the beginning of festivities, and each area in Goa has a different King Momo. The king is often presented with the key to the city and leads the processions to the grand festivities.
Goa Carnival: Things To Do
The Goa Carnival Festival starts on Fat Saturday evening. The beginning is marked by a grand parade that King Momo leads, and this procession is made up of musicians, dancers, clowns and acrobats. The slogan “Kha, Piye, Ani Maja Kar” is much-awaited and is shouted out by the revellers as soon as the celebrations begin. The translation of the slogan is to eat, drink and be merry, which is also the whole concept behind this festival.
Several traditions take place during the Goa Carnival. The plays being performed are one of them. These plays are full of sarcasm and mockery, which promises a great time to the ones who visit them. The Assoltes, the performers in these plays, also have a tradition wherein they visit their friends in full makeup and attire to prank them.
Also Read: Offbeat Things To Do In Goa
Another important tradition of the carnival is the throwing out of old utensils by the residents of Goa as the parades pass by their homes. This is reminiscent of a Chinese ritual that requires the cleaning of homes before Easter.
The festivities also involve the throwing of bright colours at each other. These playful fights are an essential ritual of the Goa Carnival.
Other famous attractions of the carnival include art and craft exhibitions and masquerade balls. The masked revellers at these balls usually head out to the streets to dance, sing, eat, drink and enjoy other fun-filled activities. The activities at the Goa Festival help you take a deep dive into the Goan culture and history. These festivities are a mix of Goan, religious and multi-ethnic traditions and are a fun-filled experience.
While these exciting celebrations are fun-filled and should be witnessed by all visiting the state during this time, the one-act folk plays known as Khell, or Fell are a speciality of the carnival. These plays are usually comical and deliver a cutting and sarcastic criticism of human behaviours. The Fell takes in South Goa, in the village of Chandor, where a small group of performers walk around the town singing Intruzachim Geetam or Fella-Gitam. These songs are accompanied by drums, violins, cymbals and ghumat (a Goan percussion instrument).
The festival’s last day is equally grand and has the special Red and Black dance that you can witness at the Club National in Panaji.
Witness the fantastic Goa Carnival and participate in the celebration by booking a stay with us at The LaLiT Golf & Spa Resort Goa. As one of the best resorts in Goa, we ensure that your stay is comfortable and luxurious so that you can make the most of your time in this beautiful state.