Thank God for Carnival

Thank God for Carnival

Carnival has been viewed traditionally as that religious event which precedes Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season. Lent has largely lost its religious significance for many, but Carnival continues to perform many social functions, some of which are not immediately obvious. It is the time of the year when the nation exhales, when many people, especially women, take a break from stress-inducing activities. For many, it is a season when people feel good about themselves, and about the country itself. It is also a time when the cultural artistry of our citizens flowers and is most on display, and when many of us are proudest of our nation.

I say all this knowing that there are many citizens who are allergic to and apoplectic about Carnival, especially the two-day procession of bands, and seek refuge by going abroad or to the beach. We even have those who, like the lady from Cascade, argued that those who took part in the recent march against crime should have boycotted Carnival to make “the ultimate statement that the country’s security system was inadequate to protect citizens and visitors at this time.” Clearly, such an initiative would have had unintended consequences that might be socially expensive. We should however note that many who avoid the streets on the two days of Carnival still take part in some aspects of the pre-Carnival activity, either directly or vicariously through media offerings. In more ways than one, Carnival is the quintessential national festival, and this holds across age cohorts, gender and ethnicity, though in various proportions.

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