Dominica celebrates its annual Carnival or Masquerade, as it was popularly called,
during the traditional period before Lent.Since it is tied to the religious calendar,
Dominica’s ‘Real Mas’ is a movable feast celebrated on the two days before Ash
Wednesday. This is very much a community festival where Dominicans from home
and abroad meet up with long lost friends and family and team up in bands that have
had a regular membership that goes back for generations. Dominica has stayed true to its
roots and the ‘Real Mas’ that Dominicans celebrate is still full of the traditional street characters
and costumes such as the souswel souwi, the Pappy Show Wedding and the Sensay costume
of frayed rope, fibre and cow horn headpieces. These are now being joined by the ‘beads and bikini’
bands that are mass produced for use all over the Caribbean and like most of the
Caribbean enjoy shows such as the Carnival Queen show and many others.
The music has changed over the years. The old Chanté Mas had a very strong African influence but
today most of the street songs are Calypso or Kaiso although some of the old songs still
live on. On Ash Wednesday afternoon there is the Tewe Vaval, the burial of Carnival. That is observed
in the Carib Territory and in the village of Dublanc. Effigies of Mr. Vaval or the spirit of Carnival
is ceremoniously burnt to signify that carnival is over. As the elders used to say Bal fini, violon en sac
– the ball is over, the violin is put in the sack’. Join Dominica’s ‘Real Mas’ and experience it all for yourself!

Categories: Dominica

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