Travel Without Passport: Spend Dec In Kochi For Cochin Carnival; What It Is, What To Expect & More Inside

Cochin Carnival is an annual entertainment event that takes place at Fort Kochi in Kerala.

by Vaishalee Kalvankar
Travel Without Passport: Spend Dec In Kochi For Cochin Carnival; What It Is, What To Expect & More Inside

December and 2023 are coming to an end. But it is also the beginning of the Cochin Carnival in Kerala’s Kochi. It is an annual entertainment event that takes place at Fort Kochi in Kochi, Kerala, during the final week of December. The final two weeks of December are when most of this event takes place, and it ends on January 1. This year they will be celebrating 40 years of their legacy from December 15 to Jan 01. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s head to Kochi!

Head To Kochi For Cochin Carnival

The Cochin Carnival is a synthesis of various cultures, including Anglo-Indian, Arab, Dutch, Gujarati, Punjabi, Malayalee, and Kannada. At Vasco da Gama Square, the Indian national flag is ceremoniously raised to mark the official opening. The district tourism marketing council is in charge of promoting it. 


The carnival’s grand parade on New Year’s Day, which is led by elephants decked out in decorative garb, is its biggest attraction. The parade includes performances of North Indian dances. There are numerous competitions, including beach football, beach bike races, bullet races, cycle races, boxing, kayaking, swimming, and marathon races. 

The joyous atmosphere is enhanced by art exhibits, culinary festivals, bright demonstrations, and fairs. The festival’s guiding concepts are adventure, environment, peace, progress, and participation. White paper buntings are used to beautify the city, particularly the Kochi Fort. Every decoration has a lot of white, which is a colour that represents tranquility and calm.

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History Of This Festival

Ananda Felix Scaria (Ananda Surya), George Augustine Thundiparambil (Roy), and Antony Anup Scaria (Anoop), three young people from Cochin, made the decision in 1984 to plan a beach festival at the Fort Kochi beach in honour of the signing of a UN proclamation designating 1985 as the International Youth Year. 

Fifty-five young groups from different clubs and organisations backed them. Other people connected to the inaugural carnival include Nirmal John Augustine, Radha Gomathi, and photographer Abul Kalam Azad. Azad went on to become a key member of the team and possesses numerous first photos, which are being preserved by the Ekalokam Trust for Photography. 

Credits: @cochincarnival/Website

The cycle race that kicked off this program in the second week of December 1984 was followed by other ethnic sports played in the area, such as tug of war, Kabaddi, Kalari, Kuttiyum Kolum, and Kalam Vara (floor sketching), among others. 

The festival came to an end on January 1, 1985, with a “Carnivale Cochin” procession that featured a large rally and elephants in captivity along with Panchavadyam. It eventually evolved into what is now known as the Cochin Carnival.

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Papanhi- Main Attraction

A giant statue of an elderly man called Papanhi is made by people. When Papanhi is burned precisely at midnight, it marks the end of one year and the beginning of a new one. This represents starting over and putting an end to all the bad things. A gala celebration with dancing and music till morning comes next. It’s still unclear where this ritual originated.

Credits: @cochincarnival/website

Fort Kochi’s hybrid heritage is reflected in the culture of the Cochin Carnival. Its roots are deeply ingrained in British and Portuguese rule. The Cochin Carnival owes its origins to the Portuguese New Year festivities of the colonial era. The Carnival was designed during the International Year of the Youth, with the themes of “Participation,” “Development,” “Peace,” “Adventure,” and “Environment” serving as inspiration. 

Visitors and residents alike look forward to the Cochin Carnival in Kerala, a visual spectacular that leaves a lasting impression on all who attend. 

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So, are you heading to Kochi to attend this carnival?

Cover Image Courtesy: @cochincarnival/website

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