Gheorghe Curelet-Balan Blog

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Caribana Festival

It has become a Toronto tradition to celebrate on August the 1st the Caribana Festival, North America's largest street festival.

This year the festival took two weeks, from July 16th to August 2nd. The festival's origins go back to Trinidad's history when it started as a symbolic manifestation of freedom and emancipation from slavery. This year the festival brought on the streets around 1.1 million people to enjoy the sun, food, music, dance and other scheduled activities. This was a way better participation than last year's 400 thousands participants that were brave enough to ignore the whole SARS scare. TV reports showed that there were people coming from as far as Australia and South Africa, just to be part of the festival.

The main attraction of the festival is the Caribana Parade with its display of the diversity of costumes, music and dance rhythms. Parade participants are challenged in designing creative masquerade costumes and showing them by "playing Mas". The initial intention of "playing Mas" was the social acceptance to conceal your identity behind a mask, so that you can satirize and comment, without consequences, on the stupidity, injustice and ridicule that exists sometimes in some forms of power: government, society, law, etc. Click here to learn more about the festival's history and how it became what it is now. These days, I think, Caribana is the multicultural manifestation of the diversity and the harmony of the Canadian society.

As for the "Mas" costumes...check the Caribana's photo gallery; and for those who didn't satiate their desire for more pictures, check this site and click on "Mas in The City" link, to see the galleries. The Caribana joke aired on radio stations was that the costumes had to be "adjusted" due to the scarcity of the funds the organizers faced this year :)


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