Carnival in Goa

Carnival in Goa
Carnival in Goa At A Glance
Begins On:

4 Days before Lent - Fat Saturday or Sabado Gordo

Ends On:

Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday


February / March


Once in a year / Annually


4 Days

Mode of Celebration :

Feasting before fasting; Floats displaying King Momo & various political & religious events; Dancers & jesters performing on streets; Cultural parade

Place of Celebration :

Streets of Goa

Goa Carnival, the largest Indian and one of the largest Asian carnivals, is an epitome of exuberant revelry, gay abandon and celebration of life. Goa plunges in music, dance and masquerading for four days before Lent every year—the time of Carnival. The Carnival of Goa is a fun feasting and celebrations. Travelers of all ages get the pleasant opportunity to engage in dancing, drinking, eating and romp. It is celebrated every year in February. If someone looks for Holidays in Goa, one can plan one’s trip during this month and experience what carnival brings to Goans. The carnivals are especially popular in Portugal, Spain and their erstwhile colonies with sizeable Catholic Christian populace. Goa had been a Portuguese colony for five centuries. The tradition of celebrating Carnival in Goa dates back to eighteenth century.

History of Goa Carnival: The Portuguese people introduced the ‘carnival’ celebration in Goa to mark the beginning of Lent. Lent is related to the Christianity. As per the Christian calendar, Lent is a very auspicious season, characterized by observing fast, prayers and abstinence. Goa Carnival is celebration with last lavish meal and riotous merrymaking prior to advent of Lent. Lent is a 40 day period before Easter Sunday when fasting and prayers are performed to purify one’s soul and get rid of all their sins. In the eutectic Portuguese language, it was called as Pre Mardi Gras revelry that was accompanied with partying and having good meal for four days straight before fasting. In Portuguese language, the word ‘carnival’ implies 'to take away meat’, as one cannot consume meat during the 40 day Lent period. It is one of the most lavish traditional celebrations of the Western Christians in Asia. The Goa Carnival runs for four days in the month of February. It mostly happens during the February end. It starts from the Fat Saturday called as Sabado Gordo and ends on Fat Tuesday called as Shrove Tuesday.

King Momo: Goa Carnival is a grand celebration that includes people dancing on the streets, wearing exaggerated clothes, floats - vehicles festooned with flowers and feathers, people wearing big masks on their faces, and crowning the King Momo. King Momo introduced the concept of Carnival in Goa and, therefore, is crowned on this occasion. The crowning of King Momo concept is same as that happens in Rio de Janeiro. A person from Goa itself is chosen to be King Momo for the carnival and gets crowned as per the tradition. It is the King Momo who leads the parade and is the one who declares the decree of Carnival which ‘Kha, Piye, Aani Majja Kar’ in the same way as King Momo did. After this announcement, the merriment in the state begins.

Grand Celebrations: Goa Carnival is primarily a Catholic Christian festival but everyone is welcomed to enjoy and be a part of it. Over the years, the carnival has also imbibed enough of the Hindu traces as the majority population traditionally belongs to Hinduism. During the Goa Carnival, the entire streets of the state come alive. The music and colours make this festival a lot more enticing. Carnival in India is celebrated only in Goa. The carnival celebration had declined in Goa during the last few years of the Portuguese rule. After liberation from Portugal, Goa emerged as one of the most popular beach destinations in the world and tourism became the mainstay of Goa economy. In order to promote tourism and attract large number travelers from across the globe, government of Goa has revived the concept of carnival afresh. Presently, Goa Carnival is one of the most popular annual cultural extravaganzas. Visiting Goa during this time imparts a traveler an opportunity to explore the traditional side of Goa too through this epic carnival.

Parade at the Goa Carnival: Parade is the most important and fun thing of Goa Carnival. It is the life of the celebrations of the carnival in short. The parade takes place in four cities of Goa - Panaji, Margao, Mapusa, and Vasco. The parade showcases the dancers, jesters, acrobats, musicians, fire breathers, clowns, and brass bands performing their arts and skills on the streets. They keep walking on the streets from one place to other while they are performing their pieces. The spectacular performances are a treat to the eyes. These performers wear gorgeous colourful outfits with intricate designs on them. Also, the performers and participants wear huge headdresses to attract the attention of the viewers and take their look a level up. The vibrant colours, exaggerated patterns and lavishness of the costumes of the performers are not only the highlights of the carnival but also take the merriment to the next level. The weird but vibrant colorfulness makes the parade lively and fun to look at. Richly decorated floats are the most prominent attraction of the Goa Carnival. The theme of the decoration varies from year to year. Mostly it depends on Goan traditions, culture, current affairs, and politics. Another highlight of the parade is the adorned horse drawn carriages.

Local Traditions to Witness during the Carnival:
a - Folk plays are performed during the carnival
b - An old tradition is that people have to throw their old utensils from the kitchen while the parade walks by so as to cleanse the old items from the kitchen and make room for the new ones.
c - Get into playful fights with colours just as Holi.

In order enjoy the colours of the Portuguese legacy, one must participate and observe Carnival in Goa. Customized Goa tour packages can be availed to explore some vibrant aspects of the cultural heritage of Goa.

Goa Tour Packages

North Goa Day Tour

North Goa Day Tour

0 Nights / 1 Days
Destination : North Goa

Incredible India with Diwali Tour

Incredible India with Diwali Tour

15 Nights / 16 Days
Destination : Delhi-Udaipur-Jaipur-Abhaneri-Fatehpur-Sikri-Agra-Orchha-Khajuraho-Varanasi-Mumbai-Goa

Goa Honeymoon Tour

Goa Honeymoon Tour

3 Nights / 4 Days
Destination : Goa

Goa Beach Tour

Goa Beach Tour

4 Nights / 5 Days
Destination : Goa

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