The Origin Of Carnivals And How They Developed Worldwide Throughout The Centuries
In ancient Italy and Greece before the emergence of Christianity, people were called pagans and these pagans celebrated the end of winter and spring solstices and autumn and spring equinoxes. (Blešić et al., 2014) They continued these celebrations even after the birth of Christianity. Therefore the Catholic Church adopted these celebrations and gave them Christian meanings.
For example the luscious feast of Saturnalia dedicated to the god of Saturn or the god of agriculture. It was celebrated on the longest night of the year which was 17th December according to the old calendar, this became the Roman’s celebration for Christmas on 25th December and it began around the time of spring equinox. This new celebration was called carnival from the Latin word carnis which means flesh or meat. As Christianity spread so did the carnivals, it first spread across Europe and then to America carried out by the European colonists.
Festivals play an important role in the economic and cultural development and also have a major impact on the development of cultural tourism of the host communities. The festival organizers are now developing events keeping the cultural and historical themes in their minds to develop events which will attract visitors and also develop the host community’s cultural image. The desire of these events in not specifically designed to target any particular group, it is used as a tool to introduce the host community’s culture to other communities in short it is promoting of the host destination. These events are hosted keeping in mind the tourism and economic opportunities additional to that the social and cultural benefits, they are being used to express relation between place and identity and plays an important role in raising civic consciousness.
Cultural events particularly have come up as a means of improving a city’s image, they add life to a city’s streets and gives the citizens renewed pride in their home city. The hallow effect is this enhancement of destination image and community pride. (Richards and Wilson, 2004) Cities take these festivals as a base of competition, competing with the other cities in terms of their cities image and culture. They on their own have forms a cities brand. As a result of this major cultural events are being held to enhance a city’s image and regions. (Chon, 1990)
The image of a place is important in attracting visitors, therefore these mega events have become a form of cultural currency in term of their image. These events are being used as an image enhancement tool particularly for large cities. A major challenge for these type of strategy is to measure its impacts. The image created by these images have been divided into two components one is designative and other is the appraisive component. Designative is the informational aspect related to the categorization on cognitive elements and the appraisive aspect is the feelings, meanings and values of what feel does a place give. Although there are a wide variety of festivals based on their nature but when it comes to impacts it mainly effects the economics of a city.
The evolution of carnivals will be explained with an example of Trinidad Carnival. It is considered to be the ‘mother of all West Indian Carnivals’ and which attract visitors from all around the world. It started back in the 18th century with the French Catholic planters had white and black slaves which were freed in the 1780s. They celebrated this as a masking tradition, and held festivities before Catholic Lenten season. The mimicry and masking merged over time with stick fighting or calinda which was accompanied by drumming and chanting and rituals of Canboulay became underclass masquerade.
After the battle with the British Colonial government who kept trying to ban the drumming and masquerade the festival eventually found its days which were before lent and was adopted as a symbol of Trinidadian culture during independence. The early carnival included pis-en-lit, who walks around in a nightgown waving a chamber pot and Dame Lorraine which is a man dressed with an enormous bottom and bosom.
Many of these traditions are fading away and are being replace by feathers and beads of Brazilian costumes. In the last century the business and the middle class have popularized the festival with formal committees and competitions. There are some sections of the society which consider these carnivals as anacceptable to participate and spectate. It has evolved as a festival which is celebrated by the old the young, of every class, creed and colour. It has evolved as a signature event on Trinidad’s calendar. Nowadays this carnivals is a whole season which starts the day after Christmas.
Carnival parties begin and the radio and the local TV and music channels are flooded with the latest music. In all the pre-carnival parties and on the days of event that is Monday and Tuesday the mix of calypso and Indian music are the driving forces of this carnival. Music has always been the soundtrack of festivals, the chantuelles and drumming led processions back in the 1800s also the calypsos and steel banda contributed to the music for masquerades in the 20th century. The primary source of music is the mammoth speaker of music trucks that energizes the crowd.
Now what makes a carnival a carnival? Is it the type of festival or is it the culture it follows. Why is carnival so attractive that visitors from other cities come to visit it? Considering all the factors involved in a carnival it can be said that the overall experience that a carnival gives is very unique, it is what bring the customers back to the carnival. Adding to this new events and function in the carnival may also contribute to this experience of the event. The report will be focusing on how performing arts as a factor help the carnival to increase its volume business and contribute to the popularity of the carnival as well as the carnival. Performing arts is what make the event alive, it fills the event with colours. The arts in performing arts can be various things in the event like music, dance and drama.
Performing arts is a path to express culture. It is not just portraying actions it is crying your feelings out. Performing arts is what sets carnivals apart from one other, every carnival is unique in its own way in terms of its performing arts. If looking at India the traditional music which it has is used in these carnivals, the show of different instruments different notes and tunes. The dresses and the performing show is the uniqueness of the carnival, the parades with colourful uniforms and their performances highlight these event. In short performing arts helps in creating the overall experience for the visitors, they want to feel this experience again and want to look at what the carnival has to offer next times that is why people come back to the destination for the purpose of tourism.
It is important for the performing arts sector to come up with new forms and type of arts every year for the carnival to keep the visitors interested in the carnival. (Lindberg & Kenneth, 1996) This experience created by the performing arts helps the carnival to generate volume business. Performing arts helps in the economic generation for the event, directly or indirectly contributing to the city’s economy. The people performing in the carnivals are mainly the locals the reason being they are familiar to their culture and heritage. Some people perform arts for as a living purpose some do that for passion and interest and some do it for seasonal income. This is how the employment of any tourist destination adapts to the influx of tourists in that place. The employment created by the arts sector in the carnivals supports many families with their wealth. Thus supporting the local community. The locals are involved in the hosting and the management of the event in turn the event supports the community.
It can also be said that certain communities are against of the type of cultural display events, they say it harms them in certain ways. They conclude that by the outcomes of the event, that is the waste produced by the event the noise created the increase in the population and the traffic in the city, but environment is the thing that is most affected by these events.
Some people don’t like tourists that may be because of the social backwardness of either the tourists or the host community. Some tourists especially in India respect the culture but they don’t consider the consequences of their action which are certain damages done to the properties of the host city or unknowingly hurting their cultural norms and most of the times damaging the environment. If talking about the cultural impacts the event has, it would be the deepening of the culture in the hearts of the local communities. They feel proud of their culture and that people from other cities and abroad comes to see their culture. It has a positive effect on the culture of the city or the country, their culture gains recognition outside the city or country. This recognition again helps them to generate potential tourists, which in turn helps the host communities the generate revenue and help support them keeping aside the negative impacts of tourism.
To explain this further we will take Calabar Carnival as an example. The event is mainly a type of display of the culture of Nigeria, various activities, games and arts (performing arts) are performed. The performances are not theatrical but they must be conducted on streets. The carnival is performed out on the streets and not in theater therefore the actions and policies of the event must be planned accordingly which will create a conductive atmosphere for both the carnival and the performing arts. (Richard & Zins, 1992) These policies and actions taken may positively or negatively affect the local people.
There are a lot of problems for human rights as a social issue in a country like Nigeria where the democratic tenet is still in the process of being fully accepted by the people. The carnival over all these years has helped increased tourism in the state as well as improved the socio – economic status of the state. Focusing on the negative side it was noted that many of the citizens’ rights were denied like access of some routes, abuse of children and even raping of women and girls by hoodlums. It is a fact that western culture over the years has invaded the culture of Nigeria.
The carnival today is a famous festival in Africa, this is a result of the performing arts displayed at the carnival by Nigerian musicians, Nollywood stars and international artists over the years. as a result of the popularity and the participation of people and tourists which positively affects the economy of the state and increases volume business for Nigeria, the Nigerian government have always been in the favor of the Carnival and has or may have overlooked the demands, needs and freedom of the local community. Therefore despite of the participation of the local community in the event the locals have a problem with the event, they face social and cultural problems and not economic. It can’t be proved that the Nigerian culture is promoted by the event or the locals actually support the event and actually appreciate the performing arts, instead the performing arts support the unpopular and bias government and can be used to suppress or promote the right of citizens.
When we look at carnivals on a broader perspective keeping aside the bias government of Nigeria it can be said that certain country’s government do promote participation of locals in an event giving them an opportunity to promote their culture and benefit them economically at the same time. It is not necessary for the government to exploit the locals as in the case of Nigeria (Nigeria suffering can be blamed to the exposure of delayed democratic practices). Keeping in mind the importance of culture for any country, performing arts in carnivals are a tool to promote the local, state and the country’s culture as well. It is a perfect platform to display a places culture with people all over the world flying to see the event. Carnival is the product of culture and one cannot work without one other.
The aim of this report was to understand how the carnivals were introduced into the world moving on what are cultural events and how has the carnivals evolved from ancient times to how are they now. Then performing arts was taken as a factor of an event and was discussed how performing arts affects the culture of the state, how important is it in Carnivals, what will be social and cultural impacts of performing arts in carnivals and how will it affect the economy of the host state or country.
From this report it can be concluded that the effects of performing arts in the carnival on the factors mentioned above depend on many other factors like the government of the state, the history of the state, the thinking of the locals and participation of the local community to name a few. It is important for the local community to accept the carnival the way it is and utilize the event for economic benefits of their own. There is always a good chance for the community to promote its culture and also benefit economically at the same time. As far as the social and cultural factors are concerned, their culture is displayed in a very attractive and unique way which will also affect the younger generations and deepen the cultural roots within them. At the same time if the country is like Nigeria then we can’t conclude the same thing.
The external factors will have an impact on the event, so it can be concluded that it is important to access the external factors before planning a carnival in any place. An adequate destination would be to choose a place where the locals are not harmed in any way if the event is hosted, their participation should be maximized for the success of the carnival and also the people should be open minded and interested in showing off their culture to people from other countries. As discussed above performing arts is the key factor in the carnivals therefore of the locals are not motivated them the quality of the arts performed in the carnival may not be up to the expectations which may affect the carnival in a negative way. A solution is to motivate the locals to participate at the carnival by showing them the benefits of their efforts in terms of economic, social and cultural way. Performing arts have a positive impact on the economy of the state or even country on a larger scale and on the same hand it has positive impacts on the social and cultural factors of the country.
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