Carnivores at the Carnival

Bijoy Venugopal
Travel Goa Carnival 2014 Food and Culture Festival Food
Kababs grill enticingly. This is perhaps the night when many vegetarians took the plunge

King Momo's commandment was dutifully followed by revellers at Goa Carnival 2014. "Eat, drink and make merry,” declared the ceremonial King of the Carnival to his gathered subjects, for a moment taking his attention away from the knee-weakening beauties attending on him. And then, as the crowd drowned out his voice in a humungous roar, he murmured a few other things that added up to the same thing. The message was loud and clear: Eat, gorge, gourmandize, nosh, hog, devour, nibble, quaff, drink, thulp, swill, cut loose…

Cut to the previous night.

Thumping bass beats pounded in your chest as you approached the illuminated fairground in Merces village, north Goa. The Food and Culture Festival, organized by Goa Tourism in connection with Goa Carnival 2014, drew an enormous crowd. Entry was free and the smells of food were inviting. So why wait?

Downy clouds stippled the evening sky. A gentle breeze was afoot, ferrying fragrance in the air. The heady aroma of alcohol hung like a fog of merriment as revelers tried out everything from feni, brandy and wine to locally brewed beers. The crowd trickled in at first and then, as the evening wore on and the stage lit up, they swept in like a tide. Still, while the visitors made a beeline for the seats, the home crowd couldn't be rushed. They made a relaxed, dignified entry typical of sussegado - the unhurried spirit for which Goans are famous.

King Momo, flanked by his queens, made an appearance at the Food and Culture Festival, where he mingled with the crowd and posed unselfishly for innumerable selfies.

There was music and dance but nothing could tempt the hungry crowd away from the food stalls. From seafood grills to pork sorpotel, from kebabs to biryani, from iced drinks to sinful desserts, everything was on offer at the Food and Culture Festival. Aromas competed in the cool evening air and the dressed-up stalls offered a feast for the senses. While carnivores gorged for joy, a few mollified vegetarians could be seen secretly tucking into something fleshy on this night of sin.

Everything is pardoned, for after Ash Wednesday comes Lent.

Enjoy these images from Goa (click on the image below to open the slideshow, then click through)

Travel editor Bijoy Venugopal covered Goa Carnival 2014 at the invitation of Goa Tourism. Enjoy more vibrant features over the next few days on Yahoo India Travel. Follow him on Twitter (@bijoyv) to revisit tweets from a festive weekend in Goa