December is clearly the best time to be in India. The weather is amazing, various fairs and festivals are celebrated in different corners of the country and people are happy and enjoying the holiday season with their friends and family. Nothing like the joy of the holiday season in the air.
Of the various festivals held in India during the holiday season, one of our personal favorites is definitely the Cochin Carnival celebrated with immense zest and zeal. Though very different from the celebrations in Western countries, Christmas and New Year celebrations in India are in no way any less!
The best part about the Cochin Carnival is that it gives you more excuses to take out your party hats. It is celebrated in the cozy little town of Fort Kochi during the last week of December every year. An array of activities and events mark the gala festivities. The fiesta focuses on the foundations of Peace, Adventure, Environment, Participation, and Progress.
The town is decorated with confetti and the streets are lit up all night. The coastal town comes alive motley processions, music, dance, and flashy tableaux.
Tracing the beginning of the carnival
The first-ever carnival held in Kochi can be dated back to the time when the Portuguese ruled the area from 1503 to 1663. Fort Kochi was the capital and it was chosen by the colonizers as the ground for New Year festivities. However, after the end of colonial rule, the celebrations were stopped as well.
It was only in 1984, the celebration was revived by three men – Ananda Felix Scaria, Antony Anup Scaria, and George Augustine Thundiparambil. The celebrations were started again to honor the UN’s declaration of the year 1985 as the ‘International Year of the Youth’. The trio received the support of 150 youth groups and organizations.
The festival was executed on 1 January 1985 and was then called the ‘Carnivale Cochin’. The celebrations have continued since then.
What to expect at the carnival
Cochin Carnival is one of the best displays of the celebration of life. While you are enjoying the festival, we suggest you imbibe all of it, every bit of it. Take part in competitions such as kalam vara (floor art), kabaddi, vadam vali (tug of war), beach football, beach bike racing, boxing, bullet racing, cycle racing, kayaking, marathon racing, and swimming. Or allow yourself to be mesmerized by art shows, rallies, and soulful musical concerts.
This year the Cochin Carnival will start from 25 December 2019 and will end on 1 January 2020.
The main highlight
For those looking to pull up their Instagram game, this place will give you a lot of content. Definitely a photographer’s paradise, the carnival will give you plenty of opportunities to take your camera out. So keep those cameras ready!
However, the main highlight of the festival is the burning of the effigy of Papanai. The effigy is burned at midnight on 31st December. This is done to cast away all evil and welcoming the new year with a rebirth. This is then followed by a spectacular display of fireworks.
The finale is held on the 1st of January. It would be a sin to miss this day. On this day, you would find richly decked up elephants are paraded on the streets which is a magnificent sight to behold. Yet another unique feature of this festival is that even though it is celebrated in the south Indian state of Kerala, North Indian dances are very much an integral part of the procession.
With all said and done, if this sounds like your idea of New year celebrations, then head to Kochi for some unlimited fun. Do not forget to pick a quirky attire for the Carnival. You will be amazed at the creativity of the people attending the festival.
Cochin International Airport connects Kochi to the rest of the world by air. The airport offers both domestic and international flights on a regular basis.
Kochi is well connected to the rest of India by the railways. Regular rail services ply to and fro the city of Kochi. Three stations serve Kochi, among which the largest and perhaps the busiest one is the Ernakulam Junction South.