A throwback to the days of 18th-century Portuguese colonialism, the Goa Carnival is a mardi gras-style, four-day party held every year on the weekend before Ash Wednesday, which encompasses three days of music, dancing and general merriment. The tradition comes from the Christian habit of having a big celebration before Lent, a period when meat and luxury foods are not meant to be eaten and time is set aside for prayer and charity; the Carnival is a huge party to mark the beginning of this austere period, when people are meant to indulge in all the things they will shortly give up. Though primarily a Christian custom, the carnival is celebrated with great enthusiasm by the local Hindu people, and their traditions are also evident in the festivities. Goa is known for its fun party culture year-round, but during the Goa Carnival this joyful spirit reaches its climax; as one might expect, the centre of the celebrations are the popular beaches, where festivities of all kinds run late into the night. The Carnival was once a local affair but it has grown to attract thousands of visitors from all over India and the world.
Date: 9 to 12 February 2013