In one week, Trinidad and Tobago will go crazy, literally. The streets will be filled with almost naked women, topless men all dancing, gyrating and doing all sorts of body contortions all in the name of ‘having a good time’.
What has happened to our Carnival? It is a question asked by many today, but the answer, any answer, is elusive. The gaiety and abandon which used to permeate our Carnival is slowly being emasculated by the business of mas’. Bands, inclusive of steel bands, are now business oriented. The mas has become secondary. You don’t bring out a band for the enjoyment of people. You do it to make money….lots of money.
Unfortunately, so much of what should be a truly creative and colourful festival, is punctuated by lasciviousness and decadent behaviour. Our Carnival has become a rowdy bunch of half-naked people running wild on our streets.
The authorities and I guess many people call the festival “The greatest show on earth”. Is it?
Gone are the days when families went to the savannah to ‘see mas’. Today there is nothing to see, no real and imaginative costumes except the various colours of the skimpiest of bikinis. Once upon a time you saw pageantry at its best. Wire-bending was a craft you could have admired.
One just has to take cognisance of the various fetes and parties. There are the inclusives and night parties, which morphed into sunrise fetes which transformed into wet fetes and this year we have a fete with a floating stage, so now we don’t have to wait on Carnival Monday and Tuesday to sport those almost bikinis. This can now be done before Carnival.
Decades ago there were Carnival dances in a ballroom setting with proper and adequate accommodations and everybody had a great time. Now the fetes have turned into all open-air concerts with a plethora of local and foreign artistes with jumping up on stage being their main contributions. And everybody says they had a good time.
Carnival, according to my old and trusted Webster’s dictionary – “is a season of merrymaking before Lent”. The merrymaking part is still very present, but the jury is still out on our preparation and practices for the daunting Lenten period of 40 days of penance and reparation.
Can we, as Catholics, pledge to ourselves to make this Lenten season a most memorable one from the standpoint of becoming more involved in whatever Lenten activities that are around in our churches and chapels?
To put us back on track for a more inclusive society, we need to become more church oriented. Let us start with making this Lenten season the most prayerful ever.
-By Vernon Khelawan. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org