Mamou celebrates Mardi Gras with begging and chicken, not floats and parades

Lively Mardi Gras celebration in Mamou starts before the sun rises

MAMOU, La. (WAFB) - With the stench of stale beer still in the air from the night before, the sound of a fiddle makes its way over the crowd, signaling the start of Mardi Gras in Mamou.

Flashy floats and Mardi Gras beads are just one way to celebrate Fat Tuesday. In Evangeline Parish, they chase chickens and beg their neighbors for food.

The Mamou celebration starts Monday night, or Lundi Gras, with a street dance, followed by the early Tuesday morning arrival of the courir, or runners.

Historically, the courir rode on horseback through the countryside collecting ingredients for the evening gumbo. Now, that process is symbolized in celebration. Costumed and masked courirs and capitaines make their way through the neighborhood singing, dancing, and chanting a traditional “begging song” called le chanson de Mardi Gras.

Mamou hosts a unique Mardi Gras tradition

Leaving from downtown Mamou, riders make their way across the city, stopping first at a retirement home to share in the tradition with those who cannot make it to the parade to watch.

The last ingredient, and the highlight of the entire celebration, is the chicken. Revelers cloaked in capuchon caps and homemade masks chase chickens and greased pigs through ditches, bushes, and fields.

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