Liverpool to inspire Goa Carnival to promote tourism in the port city….writes Mayabhushan Nagvenkar
Carnival, one of Goa’s most obviously flamboyant colonial legacies, will have a touch of rigour from England’s Liverpool and flair from South Africa’s Cape Town this year, even as a European Commission-endorsed programme plans to train local youth to cash in on their cultural talent in time for Carnival celebrations.
Giles Agis, Executive Director of Brouhaha International, said ‘Destination Carnival’, a project funded by the European Commission and partnered by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC), and Cape Town Carnival, South Africa, would facilitate training of six Goan artistes in Liverpool and Cape Town where they will be familiarised with best practices of Carnival management.
“Teams from Liverpool and Cape town, which also has a globally popular carnival event, will travel to Goa to help build capacity and equip the artist with the skills to access employment for the local youth within the cultural sector, especially events like Carnival,” said Agis.
Carnival is symbolic of Goa’s colonial Portuguese legacy and is held every year before the holy season of Lent. Goa was a Portuguese colony for over 450 years before it was liberated by the Indian Army in 1961.
The festival, held in February every year, involves a public celebration in the form of long continuous parades of gaily coloured floats, with masqueraded dancers, and indulgence in food, drink and general merriment. It is led by the portly figure of King Momo, who symbolically opens the festivities.
According to GTDC managing director Nikhil Desai, the exposure to Goan youth would help them develop better insight as far as opportunities in the carnival sector are concerned.
“This is in relation to overseeing and contributing to the development of diverse arts related projects and cultural exchange. ‘Destination Carnival’ will be funding young artists, performers and dancers of age group between 18 and 30. Workshops would be conducted. Young artists will gain competence and will have insight information about opportunities in the carnival sector,” Desai said.
The more lustre added to Carnival by the trained talent, the more it will help tourism in Goa over time, by making the already popular fiesta, a must-attend do every year for the inbound tourists, Agis said.
“We are looking to change the mind-set of the tourist. The next time they think of Goa, they should not only remember Goa for its beaches but also for its beautiful carnival. We are looking to attract more tourists by improving the carnival,” he said, adding that the training would bear fruit over five years and Goa would receive better tourist footfalls around Carnival time.
When questioned if a culturally vibrant, assimilative and fun event like the Carnival could serve as a positive beacon of hope and cut through the atmosphere of intolerance, which a large section of the Indian intelligentsia has alleged is looming over India’s socio- cultural space, Agis said that the festival does help bring people together by using artistes as a bridge.
“Carnival is a platform for people to show their identity and this will help in bringing people together; artists are always being used as a bridge to reach out to different people,” he said.
“We have to observe democracy and human rights, we have to observe gender equality, we have to observe a number of things that are fundamental to this project,” he also said.