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Goa ushers in Carnival with pomp and splendour

Goa ushers in Carnival with pomp and splendour
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Margao route altered citing public safety; now it’s in Fatorda

Panaji : 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.

Citing public safety, the South Goa district administration on Saturday altered the route of the carnival parade scheduled on Sunday, as per which it would now be held in Fatorda town instead of Margao city.

As per the changed plan, the carnival parade will now be taken out in Fatorda instead of Margao. South District Collector Ajit Roy said he held a meeting with Superintendent of Police (South) and Chief Officer of Margao Municipal Council (MMC), after which it was decided to hold the parade in Fatorda instead of Margao.

"The decision was taken for administrative convenience and from the public safety point of view...We don't have much time left now. The parade needs to be flagged off on Sunday and we are working round-the-clock," he said.

Goa Forward Party (GFP) chief Vijai Sardesai asked that if the route was altered in view of public safety then why the decision to hold the parade in Margao was taken in the first place.

"South Goa Collector has cited public safety as the reason for finalising Fatorda route for carnival parade. It means the decision taken by Goa Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar to hold it in Margao was against public safety," he said.

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