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Carnival not a religious festival, says Parrikar

Posted on Feb 05 2014 | IANS

Panaji, Feb 5 : Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar Wednesday said the state's famous carnival festival is not a religious event.

Parrikar was speaking to reporters at a post-cabinet meeting press conference at the State Secretariat.

Justifying the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government's decision to hold the budget session in the first week of March, when the week-long carnival festival is traditionally held, Parrikar said: "Is it (carnival) Diwali, Dussehra or Christmas? ...Technically everyone is opposed to carnival. It is only happening because of tourism. Even the Church opposes carnival."

The Goa carnival is a celebration of the state's Portuguese legacy. It is celebrated in a big way in countries once ruled by the Iberians - either Portuguese or Spanish and to some extent in regions ruled by the French, who celebrate Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), a similarly inspired festival.

For the week prior to the austere Christian season of Lent, Goa celebrates 'one last shot at having fun' before the liquor bottles, beef and pork are stacked away as part of a 40-day period of religious penitence.

Along with Christmas and Ganesh Chaturthi, it is one of the biggest festivals in the state, which was ruled by the Portuguese for over 450 years.

Parrikar claims that since the government did not even consider a restricted holiday for carnival, it was perfectly logical to have a functioning assembly session during the period.

"For important festivals like Eid, Good Friday and Christmas, we give holidays. But not for carnival," Parrikar said.

While the week-long carnival festivities in Goa begin March 1, the five-day budget session begins March 3.

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