It may be too late to experience Mardi Gras this year, but one of the most colorful (and secretive) of Carnival traditions has a second showing, when the Mardi Gras Indians strut their stuff on Super Sunday, March 19, 2017.
Read on to learn more about the tradition of the Mardi Gras Indians.
A Colorful Tradition
The Mardi Gras Indians are comprised of approximately 60 different “tribes” and trace their roots back to a time when indigenous peoples helped shield runaway slaves. As Mardi Gras traditions emerged in the late 19th century, African American communities in New Orleans found it difficult to take part in the new Carnival parades and balls. They created their own tradition instead, hand-crafting elaborate suits that paid tribute to the native people who had once helped their families.
What To Expect On Super Sunday
While Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras Day) is the most important parading day of the year for the Mardi Gras Indians, Super Sunday takes second place. Each of these days marks an occasion for the various tribes to come together, to show off their new feathered suits and perform ritualistic dances and chants.
The New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Council traditionally gathers on the third Sunday of March, around St. Joseph’s Day. They have confirmed the Uptown Super Sunday route for March 19, 2017, gathering at 1:00 p.m. at the corner of Washington Avenue and LaSalle Street, at A.L. Davis Park.
A festival will precede and follow the gathering, beginning at 11:00 a.m. and featuring many local brass bands. In keeping with tradition, the Tamborine and Fan organization also gather on Super Sunday, on the banks of Bayou St. John in Mid-City.
Respect The Artistry
The Mardi Gras Indians spend all year working on a new suit, designing and hand-sewing intricate works of wearable art, which can weigh as much as 150 pounds. If you are lucky enough to catch their proceedings (Mardi Gras Indian gatherings are highly susceptible to last minute cancellations and changes due to weather), it is important to be respectful of their traditions.
Move out of the way and make room for them to meet and greet other tribe members, and stick to the sidelines until their rituals are complete. And of course, it’s always considerate to ask before taking a picture. Read more etiquette tips for viewing the Mardi Gras Indians in action.
Where To Learn More About The Mardi Gras Indians
If you can’t make it to New Orleans for Super Sunday, there are ways to learn about this rich cultural tradition year-round.
The Backstreet Cultural Museum, located in the historic Tremé neighborhood, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and offers guided tours that explore many of the city’s African American cultural traditions, including the Mardi Gras Indians.
The House of Dance & Feathers and the Golden Feather Mardi Gras Indian Gallery are both open by appointment only and worth a visit. Additionally, The Presbytère, part of the Louisiana State Museum, is located only a few blocks from our hotel and features an entire exhibit about the history of Mardi Gras traditions that is open year-round.
Visit New Orleans This Spring!
Whether your New Orleans vacation plans include Super Sunday or another spring festival or event, this is the perfect time to visit. Locals and tourists alike love this time of year as the weather is beautiful, the crawfish are plentiful, and there is always something to see and do.