Traditionally, the Panjim Carnival has been a festival with a strong local flavour, with Ponnjekars not only hosting it but also actively participating in it by creating floats, art, performances and events for the occasion. In recent years, however, the Panjim Carnival has become completely commercialised, and has lost its local ethos and character. Most of the floats are sponsored by commercial interests solely for brand promotion, and the Carnival, like the city of Panjim itself, too appears to have been taken over by the casino lobby.
In order to revive the traditional carnival this year, citizens of Panaji decided to organize a Carnaval do Povo, or the People’s Carnival. This was proposed to be a small not-for-profit event in the Sao Tome and Fontainhas areas. It was to have a small float with King Momo, along with locals walking the street in carnival costumes. Residents were encouraged to prepare and sell Goan food, and local bands were organized to play in the procession.
It is now being realised that this event, which has all the ingredients of an authentic Carnival, is being actively sabotaged by the powers that be. Despite the event not posing any kind of threat to the main commercial event, the authorities are hellbent on stopping this non-commercial people’s event. Permissions have not yet been received from various authorities despite all formalities being completed. The vindictiveness has reached such levels that, instead of repairing the roads on the proposed route as requested by the organisers, certain agencies have allegedly been instructed to further dig up the streets on the route to foil any chance of the Carnival de Povo happening.
This is highly anti-democratic and anti-people, and I condemn this strongly. Carnival is a peoples festival that brings communities together and celebrates the uniqueness of Panjim and of Ponnjekars. It cannot be turned into just another opportunity for corrupt politicians and commercial lobbies to make more money from our land and our heritage.
MLA of Panaji Atanasio Monserrate must step in and assist the organisers in conducting this festival smoothly, otherwise it will be proven that he and his councillors are directly involved in this sabotage.