Fort Kochi welcomed the New Year by burning the ‘Pappanji’ at midnight in the presence of a large gathering of people from different parts of Kerala. The 38th edition of the famous Cochin Carnival ended on a high note with the participation of thousands of people.
Cochin Carnival, Kochi's biggest annual celebration, started on December 11 and ended with the burning of the Pappanji effigy as the clock struck 12 on December 31, marking the beginning of the new year. This year’s Pappanji was 80 feet tall, sporting a green and blue attire, and holding flowers in his hand. Burning the Pappanji symbolises the passing of a year and the beginning of a new year, a kind of fresh start.
During these festive weeks, Fort Kochi is decorated with lights of various colours. The place offers a peek into the hybrid history of Kochi and the mixture of different cultures that exist there.
On New Year's Eve, around 4 pm, people started to flock to Fort Kochi from different districts to join the festivities. The Parade Ground in Fort Kochi, where the Pappanji effigy was burned, was flooded with thousands of people around 7 pm.
Several young men came to Kochi from Palakkad, Kannur, and Kozhikode. “Isn’t Kochi the vibe,” one youngster from Pattambi said. They also observed that the police are more systematic this year compared to last year.
During the festival days, the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC), Ernakulam, also organised flea markets, cultural shows, food fests, bike and cycle races, rallies, beach football, arts, and games.
This year-ending festival was started in 1985 by a group of youngsters in Kochi, following a beach fest held as part of the United Nations’ ‘Youth Year’ celebrations.
Last year, in 2023, due to overcrowding, several people got injured and the lack of proper transportation put the crowd in trouble, making it a near-stampede situation. But this year, authorities planned ahead to conduct the festival in a more secure and smooth fashion.
Aster Medcity, the official medical partner of Cochin Carnival, also created a field hospital. They converted the British jail near the Parade Ground into a field hospital with an emergency team to handle medical emergencies during the New Year celebrations.
Nearly 1,000 police personnel were deployed to manage the crowd in Fort Kochi. The main step taken by the police was to divide the Parade Ground to several segments to manage the crowd effectively.