Exciting Goa Carnival - a Portuguese legacy

Carnivals, world over, attract people of all ages and  children and such joyous occasions provide a chance to loosen themselves and forget about their mundane existence on this earth. Involvement in such carnivals not only makes the people cheerful and happy  but also develops an understanding and bondage among the community members. The Goan carnival, a legacy of early Portuguese rulers is a colorful one marked by fun and frolics. The very name Goa is itself is synonymous with music, drinks and merry making, and the four day carnival is attended by an assortment of people from music lovers and dancers to fortune tellers.
Goa carnival King Momo. Couponraja729 
Goa carnival, King Momo and queen. /www.india.com
The very name carnival conjures up images of colorful festooned floats, singers and dancers of Mardi Gras  of New Orleans, USA and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil of South America. In India, the colorful Goa carnival is quite popular and draws a large number of tourists from many states.Thing of Carnival in many South American festivals. e four day carnival falls towards the end of February and the venue Panaji, the capital city of Goa, wears an enticing festive look. Goa festival is marked by King Momo's float, a major attraction followed by Shirodas floats. The carnival is all about the king Momo; Rei Momo in Portuguese or Rey Momo in Spanish is believed to be the traditional king of carnival.      
Goa carnival, 2017. YouTube1280 
Derived from the Greek word Mo mus, the Greek God who is believed to be an embodiment of mockery or satire, as far as Goa is concerned, Momo is symbolic of a harmless figure whose happy face heralds the beginning of the festivities. The tradition has been that each carnival elects its own king Momo, more often than not different one each year. Lean and lanky man is not the right choice for playing the role of Momo. Conventionally  a fat man with a moderate bay window on the model of  actors Bud Spencer or Robert Morley or Oliver Hardyl with ebullient and chubby face is chosen as the King Momo (alias king of Chaos) to add zest to his funny aura. Like all Latino carnivals, crowning King Momo is an important part of Goan carnival. The court of King Momo includes, dancers, jesters, fire eaters, a brass band and other revelers. They accompany the king of Carnival down the streets of Panaji with the king himself encouraging people to engage in merry-making, drinking and eating.The carnival extravaganza may include many well decorated floats with groups of singers and dancers. The carnival is held in other places like Vasco, Margoa and Mapusa.

Goa Carnival, Indiawww.capertravelindia.com
The Goa carnival is of recent origin and has been around since 1965. Earlier, Goa was under the control of Portugal.The credit of introducing Goa carnival goes to Tinoteo Fernandes. The idea of carnival unique to Goa's culture dawned on him accidentally  when he read  an article in a magazine about the world famous Rio festival. He thought such a carnival reflecting on Goa's Portuguese legacy would keep the people there agog and it would attract lots of tourists as well. It all started out as a mini carnival with Fernandes dressed up as King Momo accompanied by 15 Bongos/Guitar playing Friends in a tastefully decorated bullock cart. The joyous band of fun-loving people traveled about one kilo meter from Patto Bridge to Panaji's Garcia de Orta park. In 1966 same month the carnival activities continued. What started out as a humble low-key caravel now ha become part and parcel of Goa;s cultural fabrick. Thanks to the Goa's first CM  D. Bondoakar who took steps and made it a state sponsored affair. Timoteo Fernandes, now 80 was the first man in Goa in 1967 to don the role of king Momo and in the past 50 years has been an active member of Goa's carnival committee.

An interesting fact is to continue the family's tradition, playing the role of King Momo has become a family affair. His brother  60 year old Tomy  Fernandes, a man of affable  disposition plays King Momo in the present Goa Carnival. Riding the float with popular Fad singer King Momo reads the message or Carnival decree urging people to eat, drink and make merry .The festival commences with positive response from the crowd. In the early 2000, Tomy received  no dough for playing Momo and later he had begun to receive Rs. 3000.00  per day.This year his fee was around Rs. 30,000.00 a day and this was met by Goa tourism. This year his daughter, a college student, played queen, Tomy this year, it is believed, took part in other parades at Vaco de Gama and Mapusa.

As for playing king Momo, it is not an easy job and Tomy has to wear heavy carnival regalia - king's heavy costume and jewelry. People hardly know that it requires a great deal of stamina and energy to wear such heavy costume, barring tropical heat. One has to sweat it out like a sweat hog and some times one may feel heady and weak standing long hours without losing one's cheerful countenance. Th king and his family shower chocolates and toffees on the excited crowd.

For the family of Fernandes, it is fun despite being a tiresome job to keep the crowd cheerful and in  high spirits. The crowd enjoys it because people get a big break from the drudgery of routine life. As for children, it is a great chance  for them to be away from the books and school assignments.

Crowned fine times and Counting: The Hindu, dated 12 March 2017.

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