Carnivals are associated more with Goa than Mumbai. In the island city, they are organised only during Christmas and their scale is much smaller – they are held only on the community or local church level. And yet, Mumbaikars always enjoy attending them. Bayside Journal brings to you a sneak peek into one of the Christmas Carnivals that was held in the city this year.
As I enter the quiet lanes of Chembur, I come across St Anthony’s Pavilion, where the Christmas Carnival is in full swing. “The Mumbai Carnival has gained attention this year, and it is only going to grow bigger. This was the first time that we organised this event, and we will make sure to launch an even bigger and better carnival next year,” says Karan Fernandes, one of the organisers of the Chembur Christmas Carnival.
Bouncers wearing Santa hats welcome me as I enter my first ever Christmas Carnival. The first thing I see is young children dancing to the tunes of carols as they wait for their gifts. A few metres away, friends and families bond over food and drinks. I stand out amidst this crowd, because everyone else is dressed in the classic Christmas-themed colours – white and red.
The carnival starts with a march, where children, adults, and senior citizens walk hand in hand. Young couples celebrate with glasses of chilled beer. Food stalls selling everything from homemade wine to shawarma ensure that there is something for everyone. “Mumbai has always loved Goa’s cuisine and music, so we made sure to have authentic Goan food at the carnival. To ensure that people have the whole Goan experience, we also included Goan music,” Karan added.
As the night progresses, DJs play EDM music and the crowd dances. Classic numbers such as ‘Mysterious Girl’, Christmas carols, and iconic Konkani music keep the crowd grooving till the wee hours of night.
A grand entry shaped like a star welcomes everyone to the Carnival
Young girls clad in red dresses and wearing Santa hats dance to the tunes of ‘Jingle Bells’. Little children watch and follow their routine.
Young children eagerly await the arrival of a man dressed as Santa Claus, who they hope will fulfill their wishes this holiday season.
A man sells cacti, different varieties of flowers, and potted plants at the Carnival. One of the plants on offer is the Christmas tree.
From dark chocolates shaped like bells to white chocolates shaped like Santa Claus’ face, Carnivals are definitely a paradise for those who have a sweet tooth.
A live band performs old classics for an audience. Crowds of people filled with joie de vivre jived to the music. Some also performed Zumba and Bollywood-style routines.
As night falls, the crowd looks forward to some finger-licking good food and chilled beer. For this stall owner at the carnival, celebrations and work go hand in hand.
Volunteers and children from the NGO Bigger Than Life sell necklaces, scented candles, and chocolates made by underprivileged kids. The money earned from sales will be donated for the education to these kids and the employment of their parents.
A star — the symbol of the birth of Jesus Christ – fashioned out of string lights shines brightly against the night sky.
Images Courtesy: Nawab Hussain Sayed