“The Visual Extravaganza of Fort Kochi…”
This week I am taking you to yet another beautiful place of our God’s Own Country- Fort Kochi. It’s serene beach and pristine waters offer a scenic view. It is also a land of Chinese fishing nets. As we enter the place we are taken to a different period of time. The whole place has a magic of its own. We can see the beautiful transition of architecture from the colonial style to the Indo European style. The main attractions are the Historic Fort and the annual Cochin Carnival that is held every year in Fort Kochin. Fort Kochi is a retreat for visitors from every part of the world and from all parts of India. There are several restaurants and food joints which offer delicious seafood.
I am writing this to give an insight into Cochin Carnival. It is the most famous Carnival of Kerala. In the beginning, it was celebrated in a grand manner by the Portuguese colonialists during the eve of new year parties. Soon after that, the Dutch dominated Fort Kochi. And many others who came after them followed suit. The New Year party was celebrated in great splendor with big parties and fiestas. Slowly this turned out into a gala carnival as years went by. It became a mix of new year festivities with the cultural activities. The age-old traditions and unique celebrations lived on and since 1984 it was celebrated as the Cochin Carnival. The entire city of Kochi is in the spirit of the carnival they get so busy with the festive activities. The Kochi Fort is adorned in such a delightful way that the onlookers are spellbound. Large crowds in colored attires add a special grandeur to the carnival.
The Cochin carnival is held every year in the last two weeks of December and it ends on the New Year with a massive procession that held through Fort Kochi. It’s being organized now by the District Tourism Promotion Council Ernakulam. This spectacular fiesta begins with the hoisting of the Carnival flag at the Vasco Da Gama Square.Cochin Carnival showcases a hybrid culture of Fort Kochi. It’s a total visual extravaganza for both the locals and tourists.
Preparations begin much in advance carnival games, fairs and parties are held. People dress up in fancy costumes and many programmes are held on the streets. Games like a bicycle race, beach volleyball, and beach football. And cultural shows make the carnival interesting and amusing. The festivity is at its peak with a display of south and north Indian folk dances. Massive processions are held with the traditional Panchavadhyam followed by the caparisoned elephant’s, folklore, people dressed in vibrant costumes etc.
There is a myth that a gigantic Pappanji in Fort Kochi would be burnt when the clock strikes 12. It has been a very old Portuguese tradition. In Portuguese, Pappanji means grandfather or an old man. It was celebrated to mark the end of the festivities of the Christmas and New year festivities. This old tradition was started when the Portuguese established themselves and settled down in Fort Kochi. The burning of Pappanji was a part of the Portuguese new year celebrations. It symbolizes hope and harmony. It symbolizes ” time “as “Man” and the burning of Pappanji represents the death of time. So it is burnt on 31st December as the year ends.
With immense zest and zeal, thousands flock to Fort Kochi on new year eve to welcome every new year. Everyone is in an enthusiastic party mode locals and tourists alike celebrate it. It is usually celebrated on the beach of Fort Kochi. This marks the most important event of all. This year the Pappanji is 45 feet tall and is made in an iron frame with eco-friendly materials including cotton and paper.
They have started the Kochi-Muziris Biennale which coincides with the carnival and it was started off in 2015. It’s a big factor to attract domestic and international travelers. Art lovers from in and around the country. And artists from all over the world have visited Kochi to showcase their various art forms. It’s a haven for art lovers. Now Fort Kochi will be swarming with crowds of people as the Vasco da Gama square. And the streets will be full of shops, selling souvenirs, artificial jewelry, and traditional garments
The countdown has begun and the new year is around the corner. It’s a perfect time to bid adieu to our past and welcome the future. As the new year takes a flying start. May it bring peace grace and glory to each one of you. Regale in fun and enjoy the sparkling New Year