Carnival is festive time. Traditionally, carnival occurred immediately before Lent, but in Grenada it was moved to August by the Maurice Bishop government. As one result, our carnival has lost most of the religious meaning it once had, as it spread from mediaeval Italy to France, Portugal and Spain, and into Latin America and the Caribbean islands.
We Grenadians therefore are challenged each year to reflect on what spirit or tone will inspire and shape our carnival. It is ours, to be made into what we want. It is up to us to make carnival a mid-year festival of which we can be proud, and which will be acclaimed and praised by others.
We can build up and emphasise the fact that our carnival is often a time to celebrate with family members who return from abroad for the occasion. A family reunion is a time for hospitality, for joy and rejoicing, feasting, story-telling, singing and dancing.
Of course, family festivals are largely private affairs, even when the extended family is quite large. In contrast, carnival is a very public event. What would carnival be like if it were planned as a joyous public family reunion? Probably everyone thinks first of the kind of family festival we would not plan.
We would not plan for widespread drunkenness, drugs and debauchery.
We would not arrange for violence and injuries. We would not set up situations in which women are violated and men debased, their health endangered by sexually transmitted diseases. That would be a carnival without family values, a shameful carnival.
But a family carnival would have parades with music and dancing, glorious costumes, singing contests, and festive meals featuring Grenada’s finest local foods and drinks. It would have colour and lights, and an inventive spirit to reflect the cultural mosaic that Grenada has become.