I had no idea that Carnival was celebrated in India. Although it was the Portuguese Catholics that introduced the holiday to India, today, Carnival is celebrated by Christians, Hindus and Muslims all throughout the state of Goa – and apparently, in Kerala, as well. To the best of my knowledge, India is the only country in Asia that celebrates Carnival.
I was able to see two cavalcades; one in the small beach town of Anjuna, and another in the larger town of Mapusa. The Anjuna celebration was so small that it seemed as if there were more spectators than participants. In Mapusa, on the other hand, the streets were packed with people, both watching and partaking in the festivities.
Like Carnival celebrations everywhere, it really was just a whacky, but wildly fun, gathering. The processions include many floats with dancers, musicians, and individuals dressed in elaborate costumes.
I was a little disappointed that there was not any live, acoustic drumming. To my surprise, there were actually several drummers playing electronic kits, while parading on the back of the floats. It almost seemed like it would be more complicated to use an electronic drum kit than an acoustic one in a parade. For whatever reason, the drummers opted for electronic kits: maybe this was a sign of modernity eclipsing certain drumming traditions. Regardless of that, the music still was an intricate and essential part of the celebration.
Of course, there was a certain “Indian” dynamic to the festival: maybe it was because the procession in Anjuna had a sign that read, “VIVE CARNIV_L 2008,” or because a float in Mapusa declared, “HAPPY CARNAVAL.” Either way, it was a pleasant surprise to see Carnival, the Indian way…
Pictures and videos below...