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Fort Kochi misses its date with the Carnival Pappanji again

But effigies made by individuals indicate a return to normal

Fort Kochi’s unique year-end tradition of burning the effigy of an old man, the Pappanji, has been cancelled by the government-imposed night curfew fearing a rise in COVID-19 cases again.

A Portuguese relic, this is one of the highlights of the Cochin Carnival, which engages local clubs and families in creating and burning effigies at midnight. “The Pappanji is the focus of merriment,” says K.J. Sohan, former Mayor, explaining that it is not an effigy of Santa Claus that is torched but is a way of saying goodbye to the old year.

Unlike 2020, when the lockdown put paid to even the creation of Pappanji, this year has seen the installation of a few effigies. At the entrance of K.B. Jacob Road is an almost six-foot one created by Lyson and Vimal Paul of Parapally House. The family has done this annually for the past three decades and has also painted the road with graffiti, the most prominent being ‘Welcome 2022’.

Another eye-catching installation is at the Manthra Bridge where six medium-to-small Pappanjis, each with a musical instrument, are grouped together. Made by the local club, Manthra Brothers, the figures will not be burnt and will be on display for a week, says Bristo Fernandez, one of the organisers. “Manthra Bridge is the entrance to Fort Kochi so it is important that we welcome visitors to our area. In better times, there used to be over 100 Pappanjis in Fort Kochi but, from last year, there are just a few.” Mr. Fernandez adds that a few small figures can be seen seated on chairs or propped against lamp posts in the pocket roads of Fort Kochi. “The appearance of a few Pappanjis this year is a sign of revival,” he says, hoping for a better year ahead.

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