One way to know about a culture, is to see how they celebrate and why. Many countries share a common festival, the carnival, and each country gives a distinctive flavour to the celebration. Carnival usually takes place during the weeks prior to Lent in Catholic countries, and it's usually a time to revel, enjoy and feast before the 40 days of fasting and prayer in preparation of Easter begin. Citizen videos show us how carnival season was spent this year in Bolivia, French Guyana, Goa, India and Croatia.
Probably the best known and most televised carnivals in the world are the Brazilian Carnaval, full of floats, samba and dancing, and Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Perhaps you've also heard about the carnivals in Venice, full of harlequins and masked revellers. Because there's plenty of information out there about them, I won't go beyond mentioning them here. Instead, through videos shot by common people like you, I'll show you the carnivals you may never have heard of.
From Bolivia, angelcaido666xuploaded several videos of the different events during this year's carnival in Oruro, a festival which was declared one of Mankind's Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCOin 2001. This traditional Andean festival celebrating Pachamama and Tio Supay was turned into a Catholic representation by substituting mother earth for the Virgin Mary and Uncle Mountain into the Devil.
This video by angelcaido666x shows another side of the carnival, the band festival. On his blog [es], he also explains the songs they are playing and shares his experience at the festival.
From French Guiana, dailymotion user lesmezenesshows us the creole tradition of the touloulous, women who during the nights of carnival dress in elaborate dresses that completely cover them, including gloves, head-wrap and a face covering, so they become unrecognizable. During touloulous balls, men have to dance with any touloulou who asks them, and offer them drinks, which they take through a straw, thus remaining anonymous. You can see this video by following this link to lesmezenes DailyMotion site.
India's festival takes place in Goa and Kerala. From Goa specifically, youtube user JoeUKGoa posted several videos of the carnival at this former Portuguese colony.
In Croatia, people walked on the parades in spite of the rain. User intrepidCRO uploaded this video showing the “zvončari” or bell-ringers, which are the last ones in the procession and with their animal heads and large bells ringing are meant to scare away the winter.