Goa kept its date with its Portuguese cultural past on Saturday by ushering in the Carnival in the state capital 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 vibrant costumes, funny hats or dyed wigs thronged the streets of Panaji, as the Carnival parade moved merrily along the riverside promenade along the Mandovi river, which flanks the capital city.
Carnival processions are symbolic of Goa's colonial Portuguese legacy and are held here 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 a long continuous parade 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. Son of former Chief Minister Shalom Sardinha was designated to be King Momo and laed the parade on Saturday.
"The Carnival is a part of Goa's culture and ethos. People should celebrate in the spirit of Carnival over the next few days. Eat, drink and make merry," said Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar.
After the inaugural parade in Panaji, similar float parades will also be held in other cities namely Margao, Vasco, Morjim, Mapusa and Quepem over the next one week.
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