Monday, January 09, 2006

Rebirth of New Orleans ...

If wishes were horses; I wish to be in New Orleans this February end ...
To experience the carnival and the Mardi Gras [pronounced Mar-dee Grah]

The birthplace of Jazz "New Orleans", is springing back to life; after a near complete devastation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina [August 29, 2005] and the breakdown of levee-system as its aftermath. Tens of thousands of houses were destroyed; there was death, diseases and destruction everywhere.

There are at least two cities I know of which have literally risen from the ashes:
- London: The Great London Fire – 1666 [Also the Great Plague-1665]
- Chicago: The Great Chicago Fire – 1871

I somehow want to witness how New Orleans is getting back from the brink. As much as I want to be there, I don’t see it happening; so I’m closely following the developments. Businesses are coming back; schools and colleges are reopening and the city is all set to celebrate:
- The Carnival [23rd – 28th February, 2006]
- Ponderosa Stomp [Third week of April , ie; 16th - 22nd April, 2006]

Since I have very little idea of what these are; I did some Google Search:

THE CARNIVAL originated in the middle of the 2nd century in Rome; when the fast of 40 days of lent was preceded by a feast of several days. From Rome it spread to European countries and finally to America. Carnival is observed in many American cities but not with the glamour and grandeur of New Orleans. It started in 1927; when a group of students who had returned from school in Paris; donned strange costumes and danced their way through the streets. Slowly the town caught with the enthusiasm of these youths and each year more and more joined the revelries.

THE MARDI GRAS is the last day of the carnival season.
It falls on a different day each year; but is always 46 days before Easter.
It is marked with parades, costumes, floats, throws and balls ...

• Mardi Gras is on “Fat Tuesday” – the day before Ash Wednesday [Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of lent]
• Rex – the King of the Carnival; receives the keys to the city and rules it for the day
• PARADES are characterized with people in COSTUMES and often accompanied by FLOATS. A float is a decorated platform, either built on a vehicle or towed behind it From the float they THROW –trinklets / beads / coconuts to the crowd lining the streets. These throws may have krewes insignia on them. Many of these items become collectibles each year.
• Krewes – is an organization that puts on a parade and /or a ball for the carnival season
• King Cake: It comes in carnival colors and hidden in cake is a bean or plastic baby. Custom dictates that whoever finds it must give the next King cake party.
• Carnival colors – purple [justice], green [faith] & gold [power]

It’s the annual “Roots” music festival and draws music fans from around the world.
It is a festival dedicated to recognizing the architects of Rock-N-Roll, Blues, Jazz, Reggae and Soul. It is founded & produced by a non-profit organization: “Mystic Knight of the Mau Mau” which is dedicated to preserving and presenting the rich history of roots music.

Two sites worth mentioning:
* Tipitina Foundation :
It is a non profit organization to help victims recover from the Hurricane Katrina.
Tipitina Foundation

** The official site of Louis Armstrong and his archives ...



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