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.’
What is Kochi Carnival
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.
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.
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.
Here is a small photo story for the rest of the event as words will be too small to define the experience.
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.
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.
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.