Goa ushered in the colourful festival of Carnival, albeit on a toned down scale, with a float parade organised in the state capital of Panaji on Saturday.

The parade was led by King Momo, a larger than life ceremonious king selected by a local carnival committee, who offers to each city, a symbolic key to celebration. King Momo for 2021 is Goa-based restaurateur Eric Dias.

“For three days, King Momo rules Goa with the motto of ‘eat, drink and be merry’. Goa welcomes all carnival celebrating tourists to our parades,” Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar said on Saturday, while inaugurating the float parade in Panaji.

This year, Goa will host only two carnival parades in Panaji and Margao on account of the pandemic and wearing of face masks has been made mandatory. Similar parades were traditionally held in all major towns in the coastal state.

Goa’s colourful carnival processions, which are normally held in February before the holy season of Lent are symbolic of Goa’s colonial Portuguese legacy.

For the week prior to the austere Christian season of Lent, Goa celebrates ‘one last shot at having fun’ before the liquor bottles and meat is shunned as part of a 40-day period of religious penitence. Lent concludes with the celebration of Easter.