Goa carnival faces cash crunch

Panaji: Far from the usual bang, preparations for Carnival 2011, one of Goa`s biggest and most popular festivals, have begun with a whimper and bickering.

Panaji Mayor Carolina Po, whose corporation of the city of Panaji (CCP) has been entrusted with the responsibility of organising the event, has been allotted a mere Rs.4 lakh by the state government for the popular four-day extravaganza, which sees thousands of tourists and locals participating.

"Are they (government) crazy? With Rs.4 lakh, how do they expect us to organise a good carnival," Po told reporters Saturday.

The event, scheduled to be held from March 5, is organised every year by the state tourism department, along with the local municipal councils and Goa`s sole municipal corporation, the CCP.

"Last year, they had spared nearly Rs.25 lakh as budget for the carnival, but this year, it is a pittance, we cannot organise a good festival with this kind of money," Po said.

Po also said that the state government was shirking from its responsibility of co-hosting the biggest and the most popular festival of the state after Christmas.

"So many thousand tourists visit Goa for the carnival. We have been told to find sponsors for the event. This was a lean tourist season and when we scouted out over the last couple of days, sponsors were hard to come by," Po said.

Tourism Director Swapnil Naik admitted to the slashed carnival corpus.

"We have asked the organising committee to look out for sponsors for the event. They are free to do that," Naik said.

Carnival processions, symbolic of Goa`s colonial Portuguese legacy, are held every year before the holy season of Lent.

Lent is the 40-day period starting from Ash Wednesday and ending with Easter Sunday, during which many Christians observe fasting, repentance and moderation in an effort at spiritual renewal.

The festival, which involves a public celebration in the form of long continuous parades of gaily coloured floats with dancers, is led by `King Momo` or king of the carnival.

King Momo is usually a locally chosen dignitary who is given a symbolic key to the city.


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