Mardi Gras is a tradition that is celebrated here on Fat Tuesday, which the day before Ash Wednesday. Ash wednesday is the first day of Lent, 40 days of fasting before Easter, and a huge Catholic church tradition. Though the practice of Lent and the ritual of Ash Wednesday is primarily for the religious, Mardi Gras is a festival celebrated by anyone who wants an excuse to get out, have a few drinks and generally carouse around. It's similar to Carnivales that can be found in many latin american countries, and is a tradition that goes back many centuries, originating in Europe.
It includes dressing up in masked costumes, the more outlandish the better. And joining in a Parade through town. It's the colorful and often feathered costumes that this painting brings to mind. Here's some video of the event [link]
The main Mardi Gras event has been traditionally in New Orleans, Louisianna but many other cities are beginning to hold celebrations and parades now too. Including here in San Diego.
Its like a parrot is evolving in to a human! Very nice choice of colors, the only thing I am not to keen on is the eyes, they seem a little unfocused, but if you put them in to the context of a bird rather than a human they feel more fitting.