Panaji: The mythological ‘King Momo’ was not a part of the traditional Goa Carnival festivities and the character came into existence much later when float parades became an integral part of the popular event, according to a cultural expert.
The concept of float parades was started by the Goa tourism department in 1970s when the character of King Momo was also formally introduced, a tourism department official said.
The four-day carnival will begin in Goa on Saturday when the first float parade would be held in the state capital Panaji. The festivities are held every year before the 40-day lent period of the Christian community.
The Goa tourism department invites applications from people who desire to be ‘King Momo’ and conducts auditions before making the final selection.
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For this year’s celebration, South Goa resident Emiliano Dias will be King Momo to lead the float parade.
“There was no King Momo earlier, it was more of people’s participation, there was no theme as such. People used to enjoy by putting colour on each other, throwing water, and different entertainment activities were held,” Goa’s noted cultural expert Maendra Alvares said.
The traditional carnival was all about people’s participation, he said.
During the Portuguese era (before 1961), the floats never existed. People used to go around on bullock carts, he said. “This later took the shape of floats and various commercial establishments started sponsoring the event,” said Alvares.
The traditional carnival was marked by theatre art form ‘Khel’, which was a kind of satirical play. “It used to be a humorous depiction of what was happening in the political field,” he said.
The play was staged in different places, like a church square or an area in front of someone’s house, he recalled.
”People used to sit in a circular pattern and watch the play. It was up to the artists to use their talent and creative imagination to generate interest among the people,” he added