The greatest show on earth…One of the top ten things one must do before they die. ..A celebration of unity… A reenactment of times gone by… A reminder of who we are, what we stand for and a place where we all belong… An ensemble of carefully crafted and skillfully tapered costumes with the embodiment of strength, unity in diversity and national pride. …Oh yes this is Trinidad Carnival.
Of course Carnival in Trinidad is unique. This tiny twin island state of Trinidad and Tobago with approximately 2 million people has made this event so unanimously popular that millions of visitors come to identify with and participate in this 5 day celebration ritual of culture, heritage, origins, classification of imperial costumes and the beauty of one of the most diversified and tropical islands in the world.
The steel pan is a dynamic visual and sensory musical piece that coerces the tiniest waistline and most stern persona to release themselves in a stupor of musical ecstasy. The oil drums were born on Trinidad soil and continue to live on as part of the carnival celebrations. Panorama competitions invite many steel bands to compete for first place and patrons to enjoy the melodies and sweet strains of the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago, the steel pan.
The Dimanche Gras Sunday night also remembers the calypso. Calypso is a form of song that in colonial times were expressions of lyrical satire for the African slaves. Today the calypso is besotted by natives and tourists who have their own favourites. These calypsonians are accomplished men in their art. Slinger Francisco also dubbed “The Mighty Sparrow” has been awarded accolades of honour ; the doctorate degree of letters from the University of the West Indies.
Carnival has also grown to accommodate chutney soca and soca competitions where the finalist is crowned Monarch of the year.These are recent, up tempo genres developed from the calypso origins. Machel Montano is veteran in the soca arena and triple title holder for Carnival 2012. This maestro is known for his collaborations with international artists like Pitbull and Lil Jon.His career in the music industry started at a tender age.
Hence, there is no surprise that the youth also vie for titles in junior calypso competitions. Carnival definitely showcases the talent of the sons and daughters of Trinidad and Tobago.
Jouvert is another celebration that remains original to Trinidad’s carnival. Celebrations begin in the early hours of the morning . Oil, mud, paint are usually used as a medium of colourful and playful expression among jouvert bands. Persons skillfully use puns and props to add to social commentary for prevalent societal issues and leading public figures in Trinidad and Tobago. Traditional character such as The Pierrot Grenade, The Blue Devil, The Mid Knight Robber are key characters to this early Monday morning festivity.
Trinidad and Tobago, we are truly blessed with the bounty and blood of sacred mas men and women who toil laboriously to create intricate details that add to the epitome of high fashion mas and old fashion tales coexisting and reminiscent of freedom cries and burgeoning street parties from our immigrant ancestors. They came from Europe; Portugal, France, Spain, India, China and Africa . They made Trinidad and Tobago their homeland. Their customs and traditions of dancing, revelry, dress, music, masks were mere aspects of themselves but now a liberation of our heroes displayed in the feathers, beads and shells used for head pieces and costumes.
In carnival 2012, Brian Mac Farlene a leading and distinguished mas designer and leader hosted his exhibition of a portrayal of sanctification. The exhibition; “ It is a call to heal , purify and cleanse, and it taps into a collective consciousness that somehow we can be better than the headlines, but it is first necessary to partake from a common coin of communication and sanctify.” Brian Mac Farlene used red to represent the blood of the people, black to represent the darkness and white to represent the unification of Trinidad and Tobago. Today, even the children can play mas in their Kiddies Carnival Bands. Nationwide, schools host a plethora of activities to educate and allow children to actively participate in their culture and heritage.
The colour of Trinidad’s Carnival is much more than a mere revelation. It is the epitome of cultural explosions and religious appreciation for the ancestors who have bestowed upon Trinbagonians the right to live in equality, the right for independence and the right to disprove foolish myths of their people by celebrating one body, one blood, living under one sun with one love scripted on the hearts and souls of all mankind.