Goan Carnaval – how did it all start?

Goa is unique and so are its festivals. ‘Carnaval’ (otherwise spelt carnival outside Goa) being one of them is celebrated only in the state of Goa in India. Merry-making is the only thing to be kept in mind because the idea is to forget about daily chores for that period and just enjoy the moment.

Carnaval celebrations began during the colonial rule of the Portuguese, some sources have suggested that the festival began in the 18th Century and some say it began 500 years ago. Due to its Spanish and Portuguese influence, Carnaval is Latin in nature.

It is held just before lent, a 40 day period of abstinence for Christians. All the communities present in Goa take part in these revelries, which are kicked off by ‘King Momo’, a local selected to represent the spirit of the festival to the public.


The festivities lasts for 3 days starting on ‘Fat Saturday’ (no specific date, but usually in the month of February) and constitutes of parades with floats depicting various different aspects of Goa. There are also various other people dressed in costumes entertaining the crowds during the parades.

Although Carnival is celebrated across the world, in Goa, Carnaval is a fusion of East and West (two distinct cultures). A festival which can be enjoyed by different generations together, it is truly a visual treat to one’s eyes.

This year’s Carnaval starts on 6th Feb’16, in Panjim at 3 Pm. 7th Feb’16 in Margao, 8th Feb’16 in Vasco, 9th Feb’16 in Mapusa, concluding with the famous Red and Black Ball usually held at the Clube National in Panjim on the last day.

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