Updated: Jul 31
The annual Parang festival in Carriacou is a tradition that is engrained in the social life of people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. The Parang festival provides the opportunity for Kayaks (people from Carriacou) to articulate social and political issues.
Source: Caribbean events
The Parang festival was started in 1977 by the Mt. Royal Progressive Youth Movement. The organizer was Bentley Thomas. In 1987, the festival was extended from one day to two days. Today, the festival occurs over three days.
The bands who participate in the Parang festival are string bands. These bands come from local villages within Carriacou and Petite Martinique. The names of the bands reflect the names of local villages and locations. For example:
BBH - This band is the Belmont, Belleview and Harvey vale string band representing the villages of Belmont, Belleview and Harvey vale on the southern end of Carriacou.
The Central Serenaders - This band is from the capital city of Carriacou, Hillsborough. The name reflects that the band is from the city center of Carriacou.
There are typically eight bands in competition. For several years, there was also a local Grenadian band included in the competition. There is a lead singer and several other players playing musical instruments including the Cuatro, banjo, chac chac, tambourine, triangle, guitar and drums. The inclusion of a violin as a string instrument is the European influence on the festival stemmed from colonialization.
The Parang festival occurs in the month of December every year. It is a three-day activity:
Friday - This is Hosannah night and there is the Christmas carol signing competition among the bands.
Saturday - This is the Calypso night.
Sunday - This is the big night, and it is the night of the String band competition. This is the centerpiece and climax of the Parang festival. During the String band competition, the Parang bands perform a test piece in the first round, and a piece of their choice in the second round. In the second round, there is where local political and social issues are sung in Parang commentary.
The Parang festival activities occur at the large outdoor venue in Hillsborough. Hillsborough is the capital city of Carriacou.
The bands dress in various clothing throughout the festival. The most colorful is worn on the night of the String band competition. The Christmas colours of red and green are most common.
Source: Grenada Connection
Structure of the String band competition
In the String band competition on Sunday night, there are two rounds of competition. In the first round, all bands render the same piece called the test piece. In the second round, all bands render their own piece or lavway. It is the heart and center of the String band competition. The piece highlights local issues that have occurred during the last year especially melee or village bacchanal. There is usually a catchy chorus that brings home the message to the piece.
Here are video clips of Parang festival:
Source: Grenlec and Jean Jeff
Both before and after the Parang festival, the string bands continue with serenading villages by going house to house to bring the spirit of Christmas and cheer to local villages on the sister isles of Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
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