Old 'official' carnival comes alive

| 23 May 2000 22:52 IST

In its true festive spirit, sans the 'spirit', the official carnival float parade brought tears of nostalgia to many eyes, when it began from the streets of Panaji on Saturday.

They thoroughly enjoyed the flavour of ethnicity, blended with Konkani folk rather than crude imitation of the west. Thousands of Goan hearts danced at the creative fun exhibited by over 50 troupes, who completely overscored the commercial tint of hardly eight sponsors.

After over two decades, for the first time Goa witnessed the official version of traditional carnival with fun, frolic and entertainment, though nothing can compete the festival celebrated in the Catholic-dominated coastal villages in a tourist state here.

The eight floats including three beer companies and two of lubricant oil, against 56 by clubs, institutions and families, got completely sidelined as it contained nothing but promotion of their logos (if not products due to code restrictions) and young boys and girls dancing in colourful clothes.

Thousands of locals lined up along the five-km long barricades cheered and danced at traditional Konkani tunes played right in front of several creative floats rather than the western numbers played on the vehicles of commercial floats.

More than froth pouring out of big walking beer glasses or a giant tyre atop a vehicle, the viewers appreciated the huge crab crawling on the streets with its tentacles spread all over. The Goan circus which put men behind the cage and a lion walking as a ring master received applause all along, from every human being watching the fun.

A wedded couple – the black Indian groom and a cute-looking white bride – escorted by two foreigners on horses and a procession behind was appreciated by all. People welcomed them with great smiles on their faces, whether if was the float of Goan fisherfolk or the youth jumping into the well at the San Joao festival of monsoons.

Over 15 clowns dancing and jumping on the roads, wearing masks of ghosts, skeletons, animals, was a grand attraction for the kids. Similar was the response for the floats on social themes like 'save the earth', the plane hijack drama, the Kargil war at tiger hill, ban on plastics and even on noise pollution.

Everyone remembered the two-decade old official carnival when liquor and cigarette companies had not taken over the parade moving behind the King Momo. It ultimately got converted into displaying their products and making the young Goan boys and girls dancing half-nudes on the streets.

Obviously, protests followed not only from the social organisations but even the Church officially disowned the festival, resulting into the much-hyped parades going off the road for almost five years.

Though it then initially started with non-commercial colour, the liquor and cigarette companies once again took it over, till the laws of the land and the judiciary banned displaying of their products during carnival or even otherwise.

With this, the official carnival has once again come alive with its originality, though the authorities are still sore over less participation from the commercial firms. But the people have begun enjoying it tremendously, no matter it does not match the economics of those who want to promote it on commercial lines.

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