Goa ushers in Carnival with pomp and gaiety

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Panaji, Feb 6 (IANS) Keeping its date with its Portuguese cultural heritage, Goa on Saturday ushered in the Carnival with traditional float parades, King Momo’s salutations and general merry-making on the chock-a-block streets of Panaji.

Thousands of revellers dressed in colourful costumes, funny hats or dyed wigs thronged the streets of Panaji as the parade moved along the riverside promenade along the Mandovi river, which flanks the state capital.

Carnival processions are symbolic of Goa’s colonial Portuguese legacy and are held every year before the holy season of Lent, which is marked by fasting and an air of solemnity.

The festival, which involves a public celebration in the form of long continuous parades of gaily coloured floats with masqueraded dancers, is led by King Momo or king of the carnival, who is a locally chosen portly dignitary, who is given a key to the city.

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Shalom Sardinha, the son of former chief minister and Congress leader Francisco Sardinha, this year’s King Momo and led the parade on Saturday.

“Carnival is Goa’s tribute to its diverse population and heritage. It aims to spread a message of peace, unity and harmony. It is a festival which locals as well as tourists find very attractive,” Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar said.

After the inaugural parade in Panaji, similar float parades will also be taken out in other cities — Margao on February 7, Vasco, Ponda and Curchorem on February 8 and Mapusa and Shiroda on February 9.

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