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Trinidad: Carnival – Playing Mas

Trinidad: Carnival – Playing Mas


(What do you think Carnival means to Trinidadians?) To Trinidadians Carnival is like a bacchanal. When I say a bacchanal, it’s like they could free themself, free up yourself, do what they want, when they want, how they want. (What do you think Carnival means to Trinidadians?) A big party. (Can you explain more?) (What do you think Carnival means to Trinidadians?) To Trinidadians, that’s the time where you have no behaviour. To Trinidadians it’s just a time to let loose and not have a care in the world. To some, it’s a very cultural thing for them, they take it very serious, they go out to all the pan shows, all the carnival shows, to some it’s just like a big party, it’s just another day to fete. So they go to all the fetes, all the limes. But to me, Carnival in an enjoyment. I enjoy Carnival. In Trinidad, Carnival is a festive event marking the beginning of the Lenten period. The exact dates vary year on year, but Carnival always falls in either February or March. Carnival is an important part of the Trinidadian calander, where members of the public are involved in some way or another, whether it be making costumes for the big King and Queen shows, playing steel pan in a band or partying in one of the many events organised around Carnival. Getting dressed up in full costume and marching in Port of Spain is by far the most popular way to celebrate Carnival. Locally, this masquerade is called ‘playing mas’ and for some it’s a rite of passage. Masqueraders usually celebrate in groups called bands, in which kings and queens are the most elaborate costumes and play an important role. Playing mas is an inspiration. An enjoyment of yourself. It brings out the true you, when you’re on the streets, speaking streetwise, when you’re on the streets Monday and Tuesday it brings out the true you, you just let loose, have fun, just be yourself. Carnival is not what it used to be. Long time, a few years back, when you get a costume, you would see real costume designs, headpiece, you would see if you play a bird, everything depicts a bird, you’ll get wings, you’ll get a headpiece that depicts a bird. Now if you go and get a bird now, you’ll only get feathers. To me, it’s just the outside influence, where a lot of the mas men will be influenced by Rio Carnival in Brazil, so to me that is always depicting that foreign is better. People like to follow, well Trinidadians following outside, they don’t know what we have in Trinidad, they following the outside, so that it one of the big reasons. Honestly, I don’t like it because this is our culture, this is Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, it’s supposed to be one of the best in the world where Carnival is concerned. If we want what Brazil is doing, our carnival wouldn’t be the best. In Rio Carnival, you sit and watch. In Trinidad Carnival you can pay and you are in it. You can’t go and play mas in Rio, you sit and watch them play mas. I wouldn’t miss a Carnival in Trinidad to go and watch people play Carnival.

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