Goa to go ahead with Carnival-Shigmo

| 02 February 2001 22:22 IST

Goa government has decided to go ahead with Carnival and Shigmo festivals in spite of appeals made to cancel it this year in view of the disastrous earthquake in Gujarat.

"We cannot mourn for life-time because of the tragedy", said chief minister Manohar Parrikar, while adding that the state government has already cancelled all its public functions for one month from 27 January.

Demand in this regard was made by Dr Wilfred de Souza, former chief minister and the NCP leader, as well as some of the organisations and politicians here. They were of the view that the tourist state should not celebrate such events but donate the funds for quake relief.

Besides the festivities celebrated in a traditional manner in the villages by the minority Christians, the state government celebrates Carnival on commercial lines by organising colourful floats in four major cities of Panaji, Margao, Mapusa and Vasco.

The commercialised event had also come under public scrutiny a decade ago due to half-nudes being allowed to dance on the streets with branded alcohol bottles in their hands and commercialising the floats rather than displaying creative and artistic performances.

Due to the opposition from the Church as well as several NGOs and political parties including the ruling BJP, the floats are now organised by strictly following the code of conduct and restricting the commercialisation to certain extent.

On the other hand, the state also promotes traditional floats of Shigmo, a festival otherwise celebrated here by Hindu farmers for five days till Holi, in five different cities along with colourful and creative tableau based on mythological themes.

In order to help the tourism industry here, the central government has incorporated both the festivals among the 72 national festivals, besides a five-day food and cultural festival organised on the beach every year.

As the tourist season has been on low key during Christmas and New Year time in Goa this season, the traders are now hoping to get good business on the occasion of Carnival and Shigmo festivals, scheduled from 24 February and 9 March respectively. The food festival is likely to be held in mid-April.

As these festivals are organised by forming citizens' committees while receiving major chunk of financial assistance from the centre, tourism department officials feel that cancelling the event would not serve the purpose as there is hardly any state fund which could be diverted elsewhere.

"We will not participate in it actively", states Parrikar. He has already released Rs 25 lakh for relief measures while also agreeing to treat 500 quake victims at different government hospitals in Goa.

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