Planning a trip to Goa? Then you must visit the state when the grandest carnival takes place! This one-of-a-kind celebration gives a peek into the Portuguese heritage and the unique culture of Goa. You’ll be left awestruck when you witness almost a million people coming together for this celebration each day! Right from impressive dance performances to music, there are tons of things that draw tourists to visit and partake in this cultural extravaganza. Let us take you through all you need to know about the Goa Carnival.
It’s believed that the Portuguese introduced the Goa Carnival back in the 18th century. This carnival started with the Mardi Gras celebrations. Mardi Gras is on Shrove Tuesday which comes right before Ash Wednesday. During this celebration, people gather together and enjoy delicious food and drinks. It happens before the 40-day fasting of the Christians.
As per the Catholic faith, the three days that precede the Lent season, are celebrated with food, drinks, dancing, and music. After that comes the Lent season wherein people fast and follow abstinence for 40 days. Initially, this vibrant carnival was only followed by the Catholics. However, with time, the Goa Carnival has become more of a popular cultural event in the state. So, people of all faiths and castes come together to participate in this grand celebration.
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The Goa Carnival takes place for 3-4 days before Lent, usually in the month of February or March. It’s celebrated on a grand scale in four main cities of Goa - Panaji, Mapusa, Vasco, and Margao.
The parade for the carnival is hosted in each of these cities on different nights. There are many other towns and areas of the state that have festivities celebrated on a smaller scale. Calangute and Candolim are two such places in Goa where the carnival celebrations take place on a small level.
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You’ll notice that in various Brazilian and Colombian festivities, there’s the king of carnivals called King Momo. The name is derived from the name of the Greek God called ‘Momos’. This king appears before the festivities of the carnival begin. There’s a King Momo chosen in every city and that king is given the key to the city. An interesting thing to note is that a healthy person is traditionally chosen to be the king. That’s because the original King Momo is believed to have that kind of physical stature.
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A grand parade with King Momo (king of the carnival) takes place on the eve of Fat Saturday to kick off the start of the carnival. The streets of various cities in several destinations of Goa are filled with people participating in colorful masked parades. Many people wear fun costumes to add to the festive spirit of the carnival. In this parade, musicians dressed up as fortune tellers, young and old men and women, and dancers follow the king. The streets of Panaji, Mapusa, Margao, and Vasco are paraded with acrobats, clowns, dancers, jesters, fire eaters, and brass bands.
There are several events that take place throughout the carnival that reflect the traditional Goan culture. Locals come together and groove to the electrifying music and enjoy performing traditional dances. One of the many highlights of the processions that happen during the carnival is the one-act folk play called ‘Fella-Gitam’.
This is when Intruzachim Geetam or ‘Fella Geetam’ are sung by singers. There are traditional musical instruments played during this one-act play, adding to the glamor and beauty of the carnival. The curtain-raiser is served by the whistle of the ‘mestri’ (master or teacher), whereas the mainstream of the play that punctuates the storyline are the drums or the dolkas.
If you’re thinking all you can do is watch other people perform at this carnival, then you’re wrong. There are many sports competitions that are held during the carnival that is open for the attendees. Do you know what’s the best part? You can participate in these competitions free of cost!
As you pass through the streets where there’s non-stop partying, you’ll also find grand masquerade balls. Of course, no carnival is grand enough without some amazing food and drinks to gorge on. At the most talked about Goa Carnival, you’re going to be blown away by the amazing food scene. There are traditional fish and meat dishes served here that are absolutely scrumptious and will leave you wanting more!
Another highlight of this carnival is its closing ceremony. This is when the popular ‘Red and Black Dance’ is performed. You’ll see men and women dressed up in color-coordinated red and black clothes. Seeing them perform is an absolute delight to the eyes!
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This capital city of Goa is a must-visit destination during the Goa Carnival. The colorful streets of this city look even more lively and extravagant. Beautiful floating parades, non-stop entertainment, and delicious food items are served here during the processions. To witness the Indo-Portuguese traditions of Goa, there are several key destinations in Panaji that you must visit like Bom Jesus Basilica, Vainguinim Beach, Reis Magos Fort, Maruti Temple, and Fontainhas.
Pristine beaches, century-old forts, beautiful hills, and old churches - all this makes Vasco da Gama a famous city of Goa. The Portuguese culture, art, and rich history are expressed greatly during the Goa Carnival here. To enjoy the festive celebration, head to the Japanese Garden, St. Andrew’s Church, Money Beach, Hansa Beach, Heart-Shaped Lake, Sao Jacinto Island, Mormugao Fort, and Pilot Point.
Mapusa is another famous tourist attraction of Goa, located just 13 km away from Panaji. This main market town of Goa is close to many famous beaches and historic sites. So, it has the perfect location to enjoy the grand carnival. There are many famous places in Mapusa where you can head to indulge in various festivities of the carnival. Some of the must-visit spots are Milagres Church, St. Jerome Church, Datta Temple, Shree Dev Bodgeshwar, and Shree Ganesh Temple.
This commercial and cultural capital of Goa is another famous tourist attraction of the state. It’s one of the oldest Portuguese settlements of Goa and nettles on the banks of the River Sal. The fourth day of the Goa Carnival is celebrated here with great splendor. The vibrancy of the festival is seen in places like Old Market Circle, Colva Beach Road, and Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Other attractions popular for the carnival are Our Lady of Grace Church, Shree Damodar Temple, Holy Spirit Church, Sat Burzam Ghor, and Municipal Garden.
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Now that we’ve taken you through all you need to know about the Goa Carnival, we hope you plan your trip around that time. Sure, this state is an all-year-long destination, but the vibrancy of this place is just something else during this celebration. You’ll get to see an unimaginable blend of Indian and Portuguese cultures during this carnival. It’s time you book your tickets and visit this state full of fun and color.
What Happens In Carnival In Goa?
The Goa Carnival has festivities like sports competitions, dance performances, electrifying music, floats and parades, and food and drinks.
Why Is Goa Carnival Famous?
The Goa Carnival is famous for its rich blend of Portuguese and Indian culture. This festive celebration was introduced by the Portuguese back in the 18th century. Right from colorful parades, and floats, to music and dance performances, there are many interesting things to see and do at this carnival. All of this has made it a famous activity to attend in Goa among many tourists and travelers.
Is The Goa Carnival Worth It?
The one-of-a-kind Goa Carnival is an extravagant festival that’s definitely worth visiting. If you want to get a taste of the rich Portuguese culture, you should go experience it at least once in your life.
Who Introduced Carnival In Goa?
The Portuguese settlers in the state introduced the carnival in Goa back in the 18th century.
Which Time Is Goa The Cheapest?
If you visit Goa during the off-season time, in the months from April to September, it’s the cheapest. There are fewer tourists who visit the state during this time. So, you can rest assured that you’ll get a good deal on your accommodation and travel over here.
Which Part Of Goa Is Best For Nightlife?
Calangute Beach, Baga Beach, and Anjuna Beach are the best parts of Goa for witnessing the vibrant nightlife of the state.
What Is Famous And Cheap In Goa?
Items made from shells like jewelry, spices, Feni, cashew, and beachwear are famous and cheap in Goa.
Which Month Is Coldest In Goa?
The month of January is said to be the coldest in Goa.