Today’s celebration of Carnival is Christian-influenced. Goa was colonized by the Portuguese in the 16th century. It was annexed in 1961.
Though Hindu and Christians co-exist here, the history of this region is as devastating as any part of the world that has been colonized, acculturated, and marginalized.
The patterns are all too familiar—here, the Hindu were forced to take up the practices of the Portuguese, losing the use of their language, traditions and freedom to worship their gods and goddesses. Temples were destroyed and replaced by cathedrals. For centuries passports were required to travel in and out of Goa from India.
After speaking with many Hindu whose families have lived in Goa for generations, and who are practicing Christians, they candidly discuss the incomprehensibility of their religion’s past.
Today is the celebration of Carnival, Goan-style. Thousands of Christian and Hindu revel side by side. Floats, mostly made up of oversized speakers and blaring music, are deafening in this congestion. When I think of Carnival, I think of Brazil and scantily clad women decked out in sequence and feathers. It’s not that way here. There are youngsters with regional messages-young men with painted faces, their tribe saving tigers. There are ethnic dancers dressed in their region’s traditional costumes. There are few indigenous clans interspersed throughout the parade, Goan fishermen, weavers, and practitioners from a gone by era. The rest of the participants are young, mostly western dressed. They seem to resemble Bollywood celebrities. This is simply a reminder that ancestral traditions have fallen out of popularity. They seem out of step with the frenetic beat of blaring speakers. These folk are part of a vanishing breed.
I inadvertently end up in the parade line. What luck! For whatever reason the policemen don’t stop me from joining the participants. I navigate between floats and marchers in search of the most interesting participants.