Colour, Tradition and Spectacle: Dominica’s Carnival Monday ‘Ole Mas’ and Youth Parade 2013

Carnival Monday in Dominica starts very early.  I could hear the lapo kabwit (goat skin drum) band  passing through Newtown en route to Roseau in the cool pre-dawn hours as I lay snuggled up in my warm bed.  This year, I decided to pass on  J’ouvert ,Mas Domnik’s pre-daybreak street-jump-up.  Instead, I drove into the city for the 11 a.m. start of what is considered  the “traditional” parade festivities on the streets.  As well, as number of schools would be displaying their costumes and floats with special themes for this celebratory occasion.

Miss Dominica and Carnival Queen Leslassa Armour Shillingford plays 'mas' in a regal sensay costume.  She was part of the  band from Grand Bay.

Miss Dominica 2013,  Carnival Queen Leslassa Armour Shillingford ‘plays mas’ in a regal sensay costume. She was part of the Thunderbirds band from Grand Bay.

Despite some drizzle, the skies were mainly clear, although perhaps a little grey from time to time.  The  dull weather provided the perfect backdrop for the spectacular costumes, floats and revellers who took to the streets in festive style and good cheer.  Here are some photos that I believe speak volumes about the wonderful atmosphere at the Carnival Monday 2013 Parade in Roseau.

Calypso Monarch 2013 'King Dice" Dennison Joseph plays mas at his little bar on Great George Street.  I gave the six time champion a congratulatory hug.

Calypso Monarch 2013 ‘King Dice’ Dennison Joseph ‘plays mas’ at his carnival bar on Great George Street. I gave the six-time champion a congratulatory hug. Photo taken by Wendy Walsh.

Frances, one of my favourite Saturday market vendors 'plays mas' at her food stall by the Old Market.

Frances, one of my favourite Saturday market vendors ‘plays mas’ at her food stall by the Old Market.

Some J'ouvert  jumpers stayed on for the Ole Mas Parade.

Some sexily attired J’ouvert revellers stayed on for the Ole Mas Parade.

The hangers-on from the pre-dawn jump-up  included this man, who was dressed like the opposite sex.  This type of costume is common in J'ouvert festivities.

The hangers-on from the pre-dawn jump-up included this man, who was dressed like the opposite sex. This type of costume is common in J’ouvert festivities.

The Kalinago band was out in full force.

The Kalinago band was a prominent presence at the start of the parade..

Traditional"darkies', who adorn themselves in black paint from head to toe do look very scary.

Traditional”darkies’, who adorn themselves in black paint from head to toe do look very scary.

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DSCF5660Sensays of all kinds and  designs were out in full force.  This year marked the 50th anniversary of the deaths of 3 men whose sensay costumes caught fire on the parade route. The bands honoured their memory by participating in large numbers.

This little girl is a member of a visiting carnival band from Martinique.

This little girl is a member of a visiting carnival band from Martinique.

The brilliantly adorned band from Martinique added additional colour and interest on the parade route.

The brilliantly adorned band from Martinique added extra colour and interest on the parade route.

Schools were well represented in the Carnival Monday parade.  I was very impressed with the creativity in the design of their costumes and floats.  I enjoyed watching the students, teachers and parents ‘playing mas‘ together!  DSCF5629 DSCF5642 DSCF5604 DSCF5606 DSCF5633At about  1 p.m., the parade began to wind down.  It was time for lunch.  And then hundreds of people would come back on the streets by mid-afternoon as members of different ‘T-Shirt’ bands.  They would jump-up to the latest calypsos and other new carnival tunes with their favourite local group(set up on hi-fi trucks) until about 10 p.m.  I opted out of this form of fun this year.  But I’ll be back on the streets for the Carnival Tuesday Costume Parade tomorrow morning, with two newly arrived Canadian friends in tow!

This sentiment is very popular during Carnival season.  The phrase also formed part of a  popularcalypso this year.

This sentiment rings true for some people during Carnival season. The catchy phrase also formed part of a popular calypso this year.

The Triple Kay T-Shirt band is very popular with the young crowd.

The Triple Kay T-Shirt band is very popular with the young crowd.

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