Mardi Gras Parades
The Mardi Gras Parades is a carnival held at Mardi Gras, which is the time
between the epiphany and Ash Wednesday. The celebration is lavish and marked
by elaborate feasting and merry making, parading and is a celebration of joy.
It is basically a French term which means fat Tuesday, the day before Lenten
begins when people eat rich and fattening food in bulk and celebrate. In the
Lenten period, Christians have a 40 day fast of penitence. Since Easter is in
March, this festival takes place in February.
This website is dedicated to explaining this festival celebrated in New Orleans
which goes on for almost two weeks. During this time, each day ends up being
a festival of its own. It is beautiful, wonderful, colorful, bright, happy and
extravagant and perhaps there aren't enough adjectives to describe it well.
When the festival is due to end the number of parades at the start of the day
increases to almost double its previous number. The families dress up in fancy
costumes as the carnival is a time of excitement for the entire family and parade
trucks are pompously decorated. These are drenched in purple and are meant to
signify peace, faith, justice and power. The official flag of the carnival has
purple, green and gold colors, each of them standing for a cause trying to find
purpose and meaning.
The website also covers in depth the participants who come masked in disguise.
In this carnival, every member of the community participates, be it young or
old, everyone gets involved. People put on makeup in the form of animals using
modern day body art paints and tattoos. There is no cultural barrier as such,
everyone finds it a happy environment. The parade itself has evolved through
the years with different cultures and tastes influencing it. The names of the
Krewes are mostly taken from the Bible though sometimes people do have fancy
There are exclusive details of the carnival like the weekends when the school
bands are invited to participate in the parade. Referring to the entire thing
historically one would find the roots of this in the French settlement that
had existed in these areas prior to independence. Tentatively it was first started
in the year 1699 and was held by the Mystik Krewes of Comus who held the first
parade, which was way back in 1857.
The website also describes how this mythological carnival is an international
phenomenon that has found a beautiful meaning in the modern context. Lupercalia,
as has pointed out in roman writings, is the feast of a pastoral deity. It was
the church which decided to incorporate local practices and more of the people
in the legitimacy of the church. Similarly this parade was also based on the
ancient roman carnivals which were held, just the frame and context of it is
different and more modern. It is a time of mirth and zero rules, people can
bend the rules and have fun, the parade doesn't become anarchous, and they have
fun within the laws.