Jouvert or Jouvay
...it's always the beginning of Trinidad Carnival
Jouvert is the very soul of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. In the words of 3 Canal, a popular Rapso group, "Ah love it, ah love it, ah love meh Carnival". There is something about this celebration that is pagan, primal and exciting. It's always a thrill to play dutty mas in Port-of-Spain.
What is Jouvert?
It is the beginning, the dawn of Trinidad Carnival in several ways. Jouvay, a distortion of the original French meaning, opening of the day, has its roots in the very earliest celebrations after emancipation.
Awaking early on Carnival Monday, before the rooster crows the sun over the horizon, and covering yourself in mud, is the only way, in our opinion, to celebrate the beginning of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival.
Passion for Mud
For our Jouvert crew, this is an almost religious experience and begins two days prior, early on Carnival Saturday morning, with the collection of mud, their chosen balm.
From Port-of-Spain begins a journey into the very heart of the island. For this crew, second-generation Jouvert junkies, that journey, mixed with liberal helpings of good Trinidadian rum, sweet Trinidad food, and ol-talk, consists of a daylong bonding ritual that's willingly shared with friends.
Motor Oil and Cocoa
Mud, however, is not everyone's choice ointment for soothing away life's cares; others prefer oil, molasses, cocoa or any one of a selection of more brightly colored body paints.
Theater of the Streets
Peter Minshall, one of Trinidad's renowned and most innovative Carnival costume designers, once said, and we paraphrase here in our own words, that playing mas (donning a costume and portraying a character which is totally outside the norm of daily life) is the theater of the street, Carnival.
Peter Minshall was, we believe, referring to the man of meager means who could symbolically play the role of a robber king or great Indian chieftain for the two days of Trinidad Carnival.
We think the same holds true for Jouvay revelers, where for a short while all ah we is one in the anonymity of the mas. Whether disguised with mud, or in the sequins and glitter of Tuesday's Carnival parade, masqueraders enjoy a tremendous release from life's burdens and, to a degree, classless unity.
Long Awaited Day
Long before dawn on Carnival Monday, this rite begins with a combination of sleep-laden eyes, the likelihood of a hangover from the previous nights activities and a growing sense of excitement.
Like children waking on Christmas morning, Jouvert warriors awaken eager for the celebrations to begin. Stumbling out of bed, for those who have managed to sleep, you make our way to the designated meeting place of your Jouvert band, your temporary Carnival tribe. Slowly, revelers gather; then, at the predetermined hour, the sound of soca fills the streets. As bodies begin to sway, off come the shirts and on goes the mud. Abandon. Carnival is finally here.
For the next several hours, we wander the streets high on the music, sweet on the beat, soca rhythms lifting the soul. Bodies, originally clad in white T-shirts, gradually take on the look of a Jackson Pollock painting as the many hues of brightly colored body paint mix with the darker, earth tones of cocoa, mud and motor oil.
Dawn is Upon Us
Time passes in a blur on Jouvay morning, so fast in fact, that 6 o'clock is soon upon us and the sun begins to creep over the hills east of Port-of-Spain. Fear not, a couple hours remain to further celebrate this incredible event.
Jouvert may appear menacing but do not be alarmed, it's great fun.
Go native, get involved. You too can step into the dawn, not only the dawn of this particular Jouvert morning celebration but also, for a while at least, back into the dawn of time. Come communing with your ancestors and be baptized by the new day, the mud and the music. No there is nothing religious or spiritual about Jouvert, other that your own experience of course. It's simply about freedom and there is nothing quite like it, anywhere else in the world. Related Topics... Join a Trinidad Carnival, Jouvert band Trinidad Carnival Tips Trinidad Carnival, the world's greatest show Trinidad Carnival videos on the InternetDates for Trinidad and Tobago Festivals Suggested Topics... Marvelious Maracas Beach, Trinidad Sharke and Bake, a Trini taste sensation GO TO Options... TOP of Jouvert or JouvayBack to Trinidad and Tobago CarnivalHOME PAGE