The Trinidad Carnival is one of the most significant events on the island’s calendar; it is celebrated two days before the Ash Wednesday, well various traditional and cultural events running in the lead up to street parade on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. There is a saying in Trinidad that if islandersis not celebrating the carnival, then they are preparing for it, while talking about the festivals in the past years. The music is celebrated with the calypso, since some time the music of soca has replaced calypso as the most enjoyed music at the time of carnival. The other important ingredients of the festival are the colorful costumes, stick fighting, limbo competitions and many more.
The Trinidad Carnival, is also celebrated in other major cities around the world, it is celebrated as it is celebrated in Trinidad. The cities include Toronto, where they call it Toronto’s Caribana, Miami’s Miami Carnival, in London they celebrate the festival as Notting Hill carnival and in the city of New York, they celebrate it as Labor Day Carnival.
At the time of carnival musical competitions make up a large part of formal carnival, various groups and teams compete hard to win the title of Calypso Monarch, it is one of the greatest honors on the Island. The competition is also shown on the national television. Along with the great honor, the winners also receive a car, huge cash price of close to hundred thousand dollars, and the possibility of endorsements and various commercial contracts. Well the other important titles include King and Queen of the bands, which is a great competition of great and lavish costumes. Well there is also a competition for Soca Monarch, in Groovi and Power, the Carnival Road March; and Panorama. In the year 2007, the price money increased to over hundred and sixty thousand dollars. There are also other competitions such as stick fighting, limbo and various other competitions.
Normally the musicians use music instruments such as drums, claves, and steel pan, to play during the march, all these instruments were created in Trinidad and Tobago. The unique thing about this instrument is that these are the only non electrical instruments invented in the twentieth century, and these instruments have been used in many countries these days. Well a group of performers gather to practice the dance, well before the event, some time weeks earlier, in order to compete in the competition.
Well Trinidad and Tobago is a country with multi cultural people such as African, Asians mainly Indians, Middle Eastern and Europeans, and the local music is influenced a lot by all these cultures. The cultures have combined the music to create a music which is quiet different from carnival in New Orleans, Spain and Venice.
Costumes are quiet elaborate at the time of the festival, the clothes are normally decorated with Sequins and feathers. Well ‘carnival bands are basically organized groups which are made up of participants, who pay for the costumes, which are fashioned by a designers and the costumes are assembled by the volunteers in teams. The participants dance through the streets to sounds and of a steel band, along with a soca band or even a DJ- they are actually called ‘Playing Mas’. The uniqueness of this Trinidad Carnival is that both the tourists and the locals enjoy the festival equally; everybody participates in the festival with lots of excitements with the parade bands. Every band in the parade is led by a King and Queen, wearing lavish and elaborate costumes, the costumes sometimes is so large that they require extensions and even wheels to support the masquerader all through the streets. Every year at the time of Carnival Sunday, a well known competition is hosted to award King and Queen, which is an honorable award on the island.
On Carnival Monday and Tuesday, many bands compete for the title of Band of the year. The winning bands win monetary benefits along with the titles, even though the price money is does not cover the entire band’s investment for the preparation, winning the title is an honor. The participation occurs at all levels of the society, the three times winner David Rudder, explains the experience as ‘from bourgeois to grassroots’. Even young children at a very early age participate in the march wearing cute costumes. Some time even strollers are decorated with exotic costumes. There is a kiddie’s carnival, which is organized for the children to participate, this happens approximately four weeks before the beginning of the festival. For several weeks before the carnival, various competitions and parties happen. Trinidad Carnival is so important in the country that it is even a part of study curriculum in schools; there are many programs which are organized in the school in the country. All the regions celebrate, however the carnival is celebrated in a smaller way in the smaller towns and villages, where the leaders and designers begin working on their different presentations several months ahead of the carnival Monday and Tuesday. The new designer costumes begin their sales as early as eight months before the carnival, the costumes are sold in Mas camp, and there is a possibility of online purchase as well.
There are some characters, which have evolved in the time of Trinidad Carnival, some of the important characters include
He is the character who offers speech on various issues of the day, and he announces everything by rhyming.
His extravagant bragging is called as ‘robber talk’; this is a specific style that evolved from the African Griot Storytellers.
These are the black musicians who were acting minstrels; these men are attire in white.
It is a French lingo for ‘Diable’ or devil, and Molassie on the other had is a French lingo for Melasse. Well the Jab Molassie is one among the many devil mas which is performed at the time of Carnival. The costumes consist of short pants or pants cuts which are to the height of knee, along with masks and horns. The Jab molassie ‘wines’ or spin to the rhythmic beats which are played on the pans or even tins by his scamps. While some of his scamps arrange the music, other scamps hold his chain, trying to control him while he dances wildly. Well the main differences among the different forms of devil mas were once distinct, however faded as the time passed by. The other character is Dame Lorraine, who is wonderfully blessed women, this character is usually played by man, who is stuffed in appropriate places, and dressed in 18th century French aristocrat.photo:Jean-Marc