Carnival festivities kick off in Goa
One of Goa's most popular festivals, the Carnival got underway in the coastal State, entertaining thousands of tourists who lined the streets to witness the traditional Float Parade.
The Float Parade was flagged off the Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar, as the floats; colourful, themed platforms riding on wheels rolled along a major road which runs parallel to the Miramar beach on the outskirts of Panaji.
"This is one of our most significant festivals. It showcases one aspect of our past traditions and how important they are for us. We are a multi-cultural state. The Carnival is also a very important tourism activity for us," Ajgaonkar told reporters after inaugurating the festival.
The Goa Carnival, held each year ahead of 40-day Lent, a period of fasting for Catholics, is the former Portuguese colony's most famous legacy. The traditional Carnival is exclusive and unique to Goa as far as India is concerned, and was introduced by the Portuguese colonists who ruled over Goa for nearly four centuries as a pre-fasting festival.
The festival, held in February every year, involves a public celebration with float parades dressed up street performers and parties involving indulgence in food, drink and general merriment later in the evening.
The float parade and the festival are kickstarted by King Momo, a traditional mascot, who hands out the symbolic key of celebration to the host city, in this case Panaji.
Over the next few days, similar float parades will also be organised in other major cities in Goa.
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