"BUMBA-MEU-BOI" (bumba-boi, boi-bumbá, etc.) is a very popular and widespread comic-dramatic dance, which tells the story of the death and resurrection of an ox. Boi Bumba roughly translates to "Beat the Bull." Its name comes from the verb bumbar, meaning to beat up or against, and the expression is chanted by the crowd as an invitation for the ox (or rather, the men under the ox costume) to charge against them.
The Ox Dance festival is based on a tale that was brought to the small town of Parantins by migrants who came to the region to seek their fortune during the rubber extraction boom in
The crime is discovered, and after some adventures local Indians are called to help capture Francisco in his forest hideout. He is brought before the farmer and threatened with death as punishment. However, St John the Baptist visits the farmer's dreams and warns him not to kill the couple. Desperate, Pae Francisco tries to resuscitate the ox. With the help of spiritual shamans, called Curandeiros, the Caterina and Francisco are able to harness the power of the drum beat to resurrect the ox and save the couple from harm. All ends well, with Francisco being forgiven.
The festival started on a modest scale in 1913 as a simple street procession. Over time, the festival, the story, and the characters have changed to incorporate local Indian legends, rituals, music, and dances and to keep the enactment fresh for the keen competition. The festival also celebrates the traditional lifestyle of the Caboclo, the present-day Amazonian, and the story's native characters have gradually come to the fore, gaining in importance.
The annual festival takes place the weekend before June 24 over three days. Parantins' two samba schools, Garantido and Caprichoso, compete for the year's best presentation of the legend in a huge outdoor arena in front of thousands of spectators. Today, the festival rivals the world-famous carnival celebrations of Rio and Salvador, and its themes, characters and motifs are strongly tied to the national identity of Brazil.
The crowds gather in the "bumbódromo" (Parintins' answer to the "sambódromo" of Rio de Janeiro, except this one is built in the shape of a bull) where they sing and dance to the music of the boi by the rival groups that parade with huge floats and fabulous costumes. The whole town splits into two teams, each led by a person dressed as an ox. There is the Garantido team, who wear red, and the Caprichoso, who wear blue.
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|In the city of São Luis do Maranhão and its environs there are many different groups, with elaborate costumes and different styles of music, which are called sotaques: sotaque de orquestra, as the names says, uses an orchestra of saxes, clarinets, flutes, banjo, drums, etc; sotaque de zabumba employs primarily very large drums; and sotaque de matraca, a percussion instrument made of two pieces of wood that you carry in your hands and hit against each other. Some matracas are very large and are carried around the neck. With these, hundreds, sometimes thousands of people, create a clacking, frenetic rhythmic beat that's extremely contagious and vibrant.|
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