Junkanoo, the cultural extravaganza of Bahamas has evolved into one of the most entertaining street festivals of the world. Here we are summing up everything that you need to know about the carnival. By Kumar Shree
What Is Junkanoo?
Every year on Boxing Day, December 26 and the New Year, January 1, the streets of Bahamas come to life with a vibrant outpour of music, diverse dance forms, and colourful costumes. They all adhere to different themes every year and the preparations go on for a month before the event. People from all walks of life, regardless of gender, come together to be a part of this unique celebration. The unique celebration is all about showcasing the diverse cultural amalgamation and being merry.
History Of Junkanoo
Every celebration has a story, a history behind it, and so is the case with Junkanoo, only that it has a twist. Junkanoo’s history has multiple theories to it and we are not yet certain about which is the accurate one. However, the one that’s widely believed suggests Junkanoo is a continuation, an upgrade of the festival that African slaves used to celebrate back in the 18th century. The theory suggests that these slaves were allowed a three-day off during the Christmas season, where they adorned colourful masks and went from house to house.
The modern-day Junkanoo is something that might be celebrated only for two days, (Boxing Day and New Year) but the preparation kicks-off days, even months in advance. Musicians and dancers rehearse to perfect their tunes and moves for the celebration day. The designers come up with innovative fashion (think the usage of cardboards and even crepe papers in costumes) in all colours available. All of this collate in the form of a visual treat on the day of the celebration.
The contagious energy of the dancers and the fascinating tunes of the musicians from instruments like cowbells, goatskin drums, horns, and whistles create a magnetic aura that attracts visitors from across the globe. There’s hardly a soul that’s not dancing or for that matter tapping foot to the hypnotic tunes. The Junkanoo Parade procession passes through the streets of downtown Nassau in the early hours of the morning; anywhere between 2 am to 10 am. In the end, the participants are awarded cash prizes for the best music, best costume, and best overall group presentation by the judges.