The Colorful Extravaganza Called Kochi Carnival – A Photo Story

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Thousands and thousands of people dressed in their finest, stand on the two sides of the main street of Fort Kochi. A police van passes by, following which a group of priests march with an elephant with trunk covered in gold. This is the sign that Kochi Carnival has started. The same moment I realize, ‘oh shit, wrong lens.’

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What is Kochi Carnival

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Kochi Carnival is the annual celebration and the welcoming of the New Year in Kerala. This event is being organized in Fort Kochi area of Cochin for years. The carnival, like most of the carnivals around the world, witnesses beautifully dressed people getting as creative as they can (hint: they created an entire set of Bahubali along with the cast) and then show off in a parade on the first evening of first January.

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On the night of 31st December, the people of Kochi welcome the New Year by burning a huge eggify of Pappon Ji. Pappon ji is not to be confused with Santa Claus, although he looks very much like him. The origins are said to be from time when Kochi was a Portuguese base. The town still carries a lot of heritage and culture of that bygone era in the form of buildings and food.

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Christmas in Cochin marks the beginning of this Carnival. The five day following Christmas display different colorful performances, music, dance and martial arts. Due to lack of information, I arrived in Kochi on 25th December and spent my time exploring Cafes of Kochi. After spending two nights in Zostel Kochi, I went to backpack in Alleppey and returned to Kochi on 31st so that I could enjoy the festival.
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Here is a small photo story for the rest of the event as words will be too small to define the experience.

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Let’s address the elephant in the carnival

You’ll see a number of people dressed like mythical figures from Hindu religion. They lead the procession while dancing, posing and fighting with each other.

 

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Kochi Carnival witnesses a huge participation from the Transgender community. Isn’t it amazing to see how all genders get equal importance in this state?

 

The interaction between the participants and the spectators is really interesting. People cheer for their close ones who are a part of the event. Every team has its own music, some get their recordings specially made just to stand out from rest of their competitors.

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Contestant may be single but the rear tire says otherwise
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He kept shouting Wallah Al Habibi after every 5 minute
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This pirate couple has got it right
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Well, hello there…
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Let me pose and go out of focus
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Shaikh That Booty Yo!
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Participants love dressing up as their favorite movie characters
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Happy Spectators
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People work really hard on their themes. Like this team brought Egypt on the streets of Fort Kochi.
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The imperial guard doesn’t look amused
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Waiting for Moses.
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We even had guests from China
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And Williams Sisters were too generous to pose for me

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Eyes on the target, soldier!

 

Mythical and pop culture figures are an important part of the rallies. You’ll see Bahubali sets, Shiva Parvati skits and even Onida Devil scaring the shit out of children.

Nothing left me as happy as Kochi Carnival did. I was excited, running like Children with the participants. The people were so nice that they even told me to get on the stage so that I could get clearer views. I am not going anywhere else to celebrate next New Year and the one after that.

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41 thoughts on “The Colorful Extravaganza Called Kochi Carnival – A Photo Story

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  1. You have brought Kochi carnival alive in your pics. Wonderful shots. I have been to Kochi and visited Fort Kochi as well but not during carnival. Though I still loved the city and the heritage around Fort Kochi.

  2. This looks like such a fun experience. It really is colorful! I am surprised to see the photo of Christ carrying the cross. They definitely ring in the New Year differently than where I am from!!

  3. Okay, so this is really something new and fresh! Like everyday teaches you something or the other, this is my learning of today, I am delighted and ashamed at the same time to have learned about it only today though am an an Indian. The pictures are so colourful, and the artists look so much into the character they are portraying. Glad you brought it up. So, if I have to experience this parade, I need to be there in Kochi on the new year day, right?

  4. I’ve heard about this carnival on TV (it was a program about LGBTQ community in India) ! Lovely pictures – your country has so much to offer and I would love to go to Kerala during the carnival!

  5. Beautiful pictures Anshul. You captured them well. The carnival has been the highlight of Fort Cochin since the past few decades. Like you mentioned it has its origins from the Portuguese times and many people from my family have taken part in it over the years. Nice to read and see them from the perspective of an outsider.

  6. Your Pictures are amazing first of all! Darcee & I were i Fort Kochi over the new year of 2016 into 2017! Loved all the people there and the excitement of the new year was felt everywhere. Loved all the costumes and we saw a display of Kalarippayattu which blew my mind.

  7. My hometown is about 60 KM from Kochi, and I’ve had the opportunity to see the carnival quite a few times. However, I haven’t visited for over a decade. Your pictures brought the good old days alive for me again.

  8. Colorful India colorful Kochi…. Realy love Indian carnival. Wonderful shots it is really colorful! I am also surprised to see the photo of Christ carrying the cross.

  9. The carnival looks fantastic and all those people dressing up so colorful definitely make up for a fun parade. Your photos have captures so well the spirit of the festival.

  10. Surprising that Hindi culture and religion has so much similarities with Christianity! it was good and educative read. …. and ohhh. all those colors. Love them!

  11. Your photos are fantastic of the carnival, you really captured it well. What a fun day to have and everyone looks like they are having a great time.

  12. Festivals always make me so happy. When I was younger my Dad would take us to all these different festivals in the Philippines. Unfortunately, times have changed. Being in a crowd full of people these days isn’t always a good idea because of the threat of terrorism. The dangers make me so paranoid!

  13. Amazing pics! Love these cheerful vibes and bright colors of this carnival. Everything looks so spectacular and interesting. It looks like a fun and exciting carnival! Thanks for sharing!

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