1 The Goa Carnival
The carnival is the most famous festival and has been celebrated since the 18th century AD as a precursor to the abstinence of Lent. It is exclusive and unique to Goa and was introduced by the Portuguese who ruled the state for over five hundred years.
Huge colourful parades take over the state’s cities with bands, floats and dances. Although, the four-day festival is primarily celebrated by Catholics, it has also absorbed Hindu tradition revelry, western dance forms, and turned into a pageantry of sorts. Though it started as a celebration enjoyed only by the local population, it has today crossed the state frontiers and attracts thousands of people from all over the country as well as from other parts of the world.
The carnival is held either in February or March for four days (depending on when Lent starts) when the legendary king Momo takes over the state and the streets come alive with songs and dances.
The carnival is meant to be a feasting-drinking-merrymaking orgy just before the austere 46 days of Lent. Huge parades are organised throughout the state with bands, dances and floats out all night on the streets, and grand balls held in the evenings.
The history of the Goa carnival goes back to almost 500 years. It was essentially introduced in Goa by the Portuguese. The trend of celebrating the carnival with hedonistic pleasures dates back to ancient Rome and Greece. It came to be known to the Portuguese and Spanish people with time and when the Portuguese established their colony in Goa, they introduced the concept there. Since then, the carnival is regular feature every year and a time when people all over Goa take part in it with pleasure.
2 Toilets on highways, a boon for travellers
The Kerala government has to be really lauded for an ambitious sanitation initiative drawn by its cabinet. The state government is planning to set up 12,000 pairs of public toilets on the highways. The government has decided to instruct local self-government institutions to identify three cents of land in their areas alongside the state and national highways for constructing these toilets.
Often road travellers face inexplicable problem and remain clueless to find a loo while travelling by road. They have to either go to public toilets which are normally unmaintained and in pathetic conditions or they have to visit hotels and order for food simply because they have to use the toilet there.
The initiative to have toilets on the state and national highways, crisscrossing Kerala, will be a boon to short and long distance travellers. Lack of public toilets on highways cause inexplicable difficulties for people, especially women and children, while travelling by road. The government has further stated that those agencies willing to cooperate with the project would be made partners. The land of the government, public sector undertakings and cooperative institutions would be utilised for this purpose. There is also an idea to start small shops and snack parlours along with these complexes which in turn can give employment as well as give a boost to economy.
The project is really a good one, truly humanitarian and therefore the public will have to use and maintain them properly. It is really a good initiative which other states can follow.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)