Goa rethinking on including other states in carnival

Last Updated: Thu, Jan 03, 2013 10:10 hrs

Panaji, Jan 3 (IANS) The carnival may remain a Goan experience after all. Following public wrath, tourism officials are re-thinking about including Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat into Goa's carnival experience.

The final decision on the proposal for inclusion of the three neighbouring states in the carnival festivities will be taken Jan 8, a top tourism department official here said.

Carnivals are celebrated in a big way in countries once ruled by the Iberians -- either Portuguese or Spanish and to some extent states ruled by the French who celebrate Mardi Gras.

For the week before the austere Christian season of Lent, Goa celebrates "one last shot at having fun" before liquor bottles, beef and pork are stacked away as part of a 40-day period of religious penitence.

The event draws tourists from across the country and abroad and is sold as a package by tour operators.

But this year, Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar proposed that three more states be included in the celebration to widen its appeal.

The move attracted flak from citizens' groups, who said expanding the festival's scope would dilute Goa's and the event's cultural identity.

"Bringing troupes from other states will not only dilute our spirit but also tax the exchequer a heavy amount -- which can be used for developmental works. Hope better sense prevails and the idea is dropped," said Vrushali Kelekar of Ponda, 30 km from here.

"Goa was ruled by the Portuguese. That is why we can associate ourselves with the carnival. But these states were ruled by the British. What is their connect with the carnival," Congress leader Daya Pagi had said.

Opposition to the proposal has also come from within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Catholic legislators.

"What is being showcased during carnival was Goan culture as has been practised for centuries and anything else imported from other states will be unacceptable," Michael Lobo, an MLA from Calangute, said.

Ami Niz Geonkar (We are true Goans), a Facebook group, has quite a few stinging critiques for the decision.

Parulekar said a meeting would be convened Jan 8 to discuss the issue.

"If the people are opposed to it, I'm not going to hesitate to think about the carnival issue again," he said.

The first of the week-long carnival parades will be held in Panaji Feb 9.

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