"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 early 1900s. There are several variations of the legend, but a common version describes the story of a rich farmer who gives his favorite boi, or ox, as a gift to his beloved daughter, entrusting it to the care of a faithful ranch hand, Pae Francisco. Mae Caterina, Francisco's pregnant wife, develops a strange craving for the a  bull's tongue, and Pae Francisco kills the prize beast to satisfy his wife's need.

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 streetThe image “http://www.irdeb.ba.gov.br/Imagens/capaBumbaMeuBoi.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. 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. 

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Parintins is an otherwise unremarkable small river town roughly halfway between Santarém and Manaus. Only in recent years has it become the unlikely centre of one of the largest mass events in Brazil.

The number of people who descend on Parintins is considerably larger than the town’s population, and way more than the hotels can accommodate. The favored solution is to stay on the boat that brought you. In the nearby  towns and the two big cities of Manaus and Santarém, you will find boats and travel agencies offering all-inclusive package for the event. The beds are hammocks on the boats. Most of the riverboat companies offer three or four-day packages, costing between $75 and $300. The trips are often booked well in advance, and are advertised from March onwards on banners tied to the boats.

As you might expect, there is a lot of petty thieving and pick-pocketing, so take extra care of anything you take with you. Seeing the town harbor crammed with hundreds of boats is a sight in itself.

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.

The teams compete against each other with flamboyant dances and performances and you must pick a team to support if you attend. It is quite a spectacle to see 20,000 people going wild as only Brazilians can, while the other half of the stadium is as quiet as a funeral -- only to have the roles reversed a few hours later. The teams are judged in twenty-two categories including best music, best crowd support, best ox and best floats. On the fourth morning the winner is announced and the triumphant team puts on a street parade! 

Aquarela in San Francisco Carnaval Parade 2005

Aquarela Brazilian Dance Ensemble dancers dressed as the various characters in the legend, as well as representing important elements of Amazonian folklore, myth and nature.
The Boi-As the animal which the entire legend revolves around, Aquarela's top male dancer will wear the handmade
paper mache ox head and energetically play and dance. . .
Pai Francisco-One of Aquarela's leading male dancers will play this important role
Mae Catirina-This role will be filled by one of Aquarela's many community participants
The Witchdoctor/Priestess-an intense and striking costume, this dancer embodies the all-important role of the Witchdoctor, whose powerful magic brings the Boi back to life
Cunha Poranga- with a rich and highly ornate native costume, this is the Boi Rumba's version of Rio's Rainha da Bateria (Queen of the Bateria)
Rainforest Dancer- a dancer representing the vivid, beautiful and enchanting rainforest plants and trees that define the world's largest rainforest.
Sweet Water! River Dancer-this dancer wears a rich beautiful blue costume to represent the life force of the Amazon and all its living things~Water.

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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