DatesStart Date: 25-12-2023 End Date: 01-01-2024
Every year in the last week of December, the city of Kochi in Kerala hosts the Cochin carnival. The carnival usually lasts for about a week ending on the 1st of January. The carnival is officially inaugurated with the Carnival flag hoisting at the Vasco da Gama Square.
The carnival originated from or rather can be traced back to the Portuguese New Year. The main highlight or attraction of the carnival is the humongous procession on New Year's Day which is graced by elephants parading adorned in various ornaments and decorations making them appear enticing and majestic, the different forms of North Indian dances are also a part of the procession. The festival in itself is a culmination of different cultures coming together like Portuguese, Gujarati, Punjabi, Malayalee, Kannada, Arab, Dutch, and Anglo Indian culture.
There are various competitions held like beach bike race, beach football, wrestling, boxing, cycle race, bullet race, kayaking, swimming, and marathon races during the carnival. In addition to that, there are numerous art shows, food festivals, colorful rallies and fairs. The principles on the basis of which the carnival is promoted and conducted during the festival are Participation, Peace, Progress, Adventure and Environment. The entire city is decorated in white which symbolizes peace and tranquillity and especially the Kochi Fort.
The Papanhi is a humongous statue of an old man. The statue is burned exactly when the clock strikes 12 at night, signifying the end of a passing year and is done in order to welcome the New Year. Symbolically it signifies the burning of all the ills and evils and promotes new beginnings on a fresh note. Now the reason why this is a belief among the people is still unidentifiable, but it is a ritual that has been followed to date. After the burning of Papanhi, the old man, a gala party, is conducted where people dance with thrilling and exciting music till the break of dawn.
There are numerous myths and legends encompassing the burning of Papanhi, none of which have been proved to be absolute however these customs are believed to be a hybrid of the influence all the other cultures like Portuguese, Dutch and British merging with ours. Before this custom of burning the old man became a part of the Carnival, the local clubs had Papanhi festivities around the area. Soon it merged with the carnival and the legend of Papanhi also grew. The papanhi is a Portuguese word that translates to the old man and it is believed to resemble Santa Claus. Over a period of time, there was a ritual where the statues or the sculptures of Santa were burned; however; it was soon corrected afterward. Some believe that the burning of the old man can also be a result of such past events.
Trivandrum - CapeComorin
Kovalam - Alleppey - Kumarakom - Periyar - Munnar - Cochin - Trivandrum