The Boi Bumbá festival presents myths, tales and legends using characters, parade carts and giant puppets followed by the words of a master of ceremonies who describes in detail every bit of the action.
It is an incredible musical and theatrical experience, a religious procession, a tribal ritual, a giant puppet show, a fairy tale of powerful villains and brave heroes, a folk art presentation, a major party for the audience and an energizing choreography of the galera (gah-le-rah), all at once. The characters in the performance come from the Boi Bumbá tale. There are two teams called Bois (plural of Boi). Each one tells the same story in all three night of the festival, amounting to 6 different performances of the same show. But every night is different because legends, rituals, dances, puppets, garments, alegorias, they all change and create the show anew.
There are many similar festivities in Brazil, but Parintins is the home of the biggest and most impressive of all. It is both an artistic display and a dispute between two different teams: Bois Caprichoso (cah-pree-show-zol) and Garantido (gah-run-tee-dow). Boi is the Portuguese word for ox, and it is also the main character of the drama that unfolds every night in an arena closely watched by 35,000 people. After the 3-hour show of each Boi, the city has food, drinks and party for everybody. The main square, countless bars and every little corner near the Bumbódromo accommodate a crowd still full of energy to mimic the dance and songs of their favorite Boi.
Parintins folklore has its own principles: it expresses spontaneous culture and evolves freely, always in its own terms. It is not clear exactly how the whole thing started. Some accounts hold that Lindolfo Monteverde, the alleged creator of Garantido, brought to life a bedtime story he used to hear from his grandfather. Similarly, Caprichoso is considered to be a creation of José Furtado Belém and the Cid brothers. Each Boi would be the result of a different promessa to St. John the Baptist.
The play tells the story of Pai Francisco, who worked in a farm, and Mãe Catirina, his pregnant wife who longed to eat beef tongue. Pai Francisco kills an ox to satisfy his wife's craving. Unfortunately, this ox is the farm owner's favorite. A priest and a doctor fail to revive the Boi, for whose death Pai Francisco would be sent to jail. The story has a happy end thanks to the ritual performed by a pajé (pa-zhe, shaman) . Pai Francisco is forgiven and the whole ordeal ends in a major party that celebrates the Boi's life.
Celebrations in Parintins Parintins began modestly enough with processions throughout the city. As time went by, the festival, the story and the characters changed to incorporate legends, rituals, music and dance of local indians and to celebrate the lifestyle of the caboclo, the countryman who has a mixed heritage of Europeans an aborigines.
The festival also is a competition. The winner is chosen by a jury that evaluates each Boi according to several criteria, such as the presentation of the Boi, the indian tribe and their chiefs tuxauas (to-shall-us), the shaman rituals, songs, alegorias, choreographies, etc. One of the most fascinating aspects of the festival is the enthusiastic participation of the audience in the Bumbódromo. The support of the galeras (the crowd of fans cheering for each Boi) is also evaluated by the judges, and each Boi has people who are in charge of organizing the galera. The Bumbódromo is divided in two halves for the Garantido and Caprichoso fans, who dance and wave handkerchiefs and candles. They rock and roll when each new character comes into the scene.
People are very serious about taking sides in Parintins. Everybody in town has roots that go all the way up to one of the teams, and there is no compromise between them. You can never ever support the wrong Boi – for if you do so, the opposite Boi could win. Even with such strong feelings, hooligans have no place here. Whenever one side is performing, the other maintains complete silence.
In the morning of the fourth day, the winner is announced, after which the fans and supporters of the winning Boi parade around town. Both sides are swept in emotion, but the police is on the watch and prevents any disorderly behavior.
In Parintins you will find nice folks who paint their houses in the color of their favorite Boi and enjoy riding their bikes. There are almost no "normal", 4-wheeled taxis - here taxi means either a motorbike (2 wheels) or a bicycle with a special carriage in front (3 wheels and no motor).
Tourism is an important source of income for the county, and there is much more to see and do besides the festival. Those who like fishing should come in the dry season, from September to December.
Indians Sateré-Mawé and Wai-Wai are famous for their necklaces, earrings and all kinds of craftsmanship using feathers and seeds. Other popular items are made with roots, straw and jute.
The city was founded in the eighteenth century by José Pedro Cordovil, upon the request of the Portuguese king, and was called Tupinambarana. It was first inhabited by Maué, Sapupé and Parintintin indians. It was only in 1880 that it was officialy recognized as a city and received the name it holds today.
In Parintins weather is mostly tropical: rainy and hot. Temperatures range between 22°C and 30°C. The native vegetation is the meadow forest and the main harvest products are avocado, cocoa, banana, coffee, cashew, tapioca, watermelon, pineapple, sweet potato, coconut, corn and beans. Animal farming is based mostly on oxen.Text: Sheila Cirigola