Carnival is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during February and March. Carnival typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus and public street party. People often dress up or masquerade during the celebrations. Carnival is mostly associated with Roman Catholic and, to a lesser extent, Eastern Orthodox Christians; Protestant areas usually do not have carnival celebrations or have modified traditions, like the Danish Carnival.
The world's longest carnival celebration is held in Brazil but many countries worldwide have large, popular celebrations, such as Carnaval of Venice, or the world famous German celebrations. Depending on the area, the carnival may last from a few weeks to several months. While its starting day varies, it usually ends on the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent. In the Ambrosian rite of Milan (Italy), the carnival ends on the Saturday after Ash Wednesday, and in the area of Eastern Christianity, it ends on the Sunday seven weeks before Easter, since in Eastern tradition lent begins on Clean Monday.
Most commonly the season begins on Septuagesima, the third Sunday before Ash Wednesday, but in some places it starts as early as Twelfth Night or even in November. The most important celebrations are generally concentrated during the last days of the season. Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) or Fastnacht, the high point of the festivities when, according to many traditions, preparations for the parties are made, such as baking goods. Also carnivals could be found in forstes of India. Goa (which was a Portuguese colony) has a long tradition of celebrating Carnivaal with colorful masks and floats.
The city of Loutulim has the largest Carnival which sees merry residents gathered on the streets amid beating of drums and reverberating music. The celebrations run three days culminating in a carnival parade on fat Tuesday. There is participation of a large number of tourists. Dance troupes performed skits before throwing water on each other. After the revelry, song and dance, great food and good wine come together beautifully. After partying, the crowds enjoy a delightful Goan cuisine at a buffet dinner. In contrast, the state of Kerala has very different celebrations.
The festival is called Raasa (means fun in Sanskrit and in early malayalam). No masks are worn, but there is music and festivities, sometimes with fireworks. The Raasas are organized on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday by local catholic churches, and usually culminate in a public mass or a mass conducted in the church. The most popular celebrations in Goa are Ganesh Chaturthi (Chavoth-Konkani), Diwali, Christmas, Easter, Samsar Padvo, Shigmo and the Carnival. Goa is also known for its New Year's celebrations.
The Goan Carnival is known to attract a large number of tourists. Goan Hindus are very fond of Natak, Bhajan and Kirtan. Many famous Indian Classical singers hail from Goa, such as , Kishori Amonkar, Kesarbai Kerkar, Jitendra Abhisheki, Prabhakar Karekar. Some traditional Goan dance forms are dekhnni, fugdi, and corridinho.Rice with fish curry (Xit kodi in Konkani) is the staple diet in Goa. Goan cuisine is renowned for its rich variety of fish dishes cooked with elaborate recipes. Coconut and coconut oil is widely used in Goan cooking along with chili peppers, spices and vinegar giving the food a unique flavour.
Pork dishes such as Vindaloo, Xacuti and Sorpotel are cooked for major occasions among the Catholics. An exotic Goan vegetable stew, known as Khatkhate, is a very popular dish during the celebrations of festivals, Hindu and Christian alike. Khatkhate contains at least five vegetables, fresh coconut, and special Goan spices that add to the aroma. A rich egg-based multi-layered sweet dish known as bebinca is a favourite at Christmas. The most popular alcoholic beverage in Goa is feni; Cashew feni is made from the fermentation of the fruit of the cashew tree, while coconut feni is made from the sap of toddy palms.
Even though mostly Syrian or Roman catholic Christians only take part in Raasa Parade (which is considered the religious part), both Hindus and Muslims join to watch and join the public mass by Christians in the festivities. There is no food at the end of the celebration but there are fireworks organized by some churches. People however offer half boiled or raw rice for the Chembeduppu ceremony in large copper vessels (Chembu) kept at the Church. The copper vessels carrying the half-boiled rice were taken out in a Raasa procession by the faithfuls with traditional Church orchestra playing the accompaniment. The golden and the silver cross as well as the Papal and Catholicate flags were also taken out with the Raasa procession