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.
The characters in the performance come from the Boi Bumba; tale. The main character is the Boi , played by a man named tripa (“guts”) who dances holding a frame covered in fabric. There are two Bois : Garantido is white with a red heart on its forehead, while Caprichoso is black and has a blue star. In Parintins, the vaqueiros of the tale are replaced by Pai Francisco, Mãe Catirina, Amo do Boi and Sinhazinha. Together, they lead the boi, who is wounded, killed and then revived.
The presence of Indian s Maué, Sapupé and Parintins, who lived in the island long before the tale was created, is also incorporated to the plot. There is the Pajé, who resuscitates the Boi; Cunhã-Poranga, the icon of female beauty who conquers the hearts of the tribe warriors; and the Tuxauas, the symbol of divinity and Indian wisdom.
Parintins Bumbódromo is the stage where characters from Indian myths - Iara, Curupira, Gigante Juma, Cobra Grande, Formiga do Fogo, boto cor-de-rosa - come to life.
The music in the festival is strongly influenced by Indian traditions, as evidenced by the use of the palminhas, maracás de lata and drums. The tribe tuxauas parade to the beat of an Indian dance.
In Parintins, Bumba-meu-boi is also a token of gratitude towards St. John . The festival is in June precisely because it is also the month traditionally associated with that saint. It is a part of the festas juninas (June celebrations) cycle, which includes celebrations in honor of St. Anthony and St. Peter. [For more information see Folclore brasileiro by Nilza B. Megale, Editora Vozes; A ciência do folclore by Rossini Tavares de Lima, Editora Martins Fontes; Dicionário do folclore brasileiro by Luís da Câmara Cascudo, E ditora Global.]
Not unlike most popular celebrations in Northeastern Brazil , Parintins festival has a large public participation. There are some three thousand brincantes in the celebration.
Shamanism involves mystical ceremonies in which the shaman – a wich doctor with supernatural healing powers, ability to communicate with spirits and tell the future – comes into a trance and supposedly leaves his own body. The presence of shamans is mandatory in the performance (much like of the baianas section in Brazilin Carnival), which takes a lot of research from the organizers, once it must be historically correct. The Pajé and the Tuxuauas bring about the happy end by reviving the Boi . The pajelança , a mystical healing ceremony, invokes the soul of the beast, which is different every year (the cobra grande , for instance) which is invoked in order to bring the Boi back to life.
It is only natural that the Parintins folk festival changed with time due to the contact with Indian culture. Before the eighteenth century, intellectuals regarded popular manifestations as a byproduct of ignorance in arts and sciences. In the nineteenth century, experts accepted the liveliness and spontaneity of those manifestations, in contrast with academic formalism. A careful analysis can detect all kinds of influences in popular manifestations, such as ancient religious beliefs, basic wishes and fears of human beings, political longings of the population and even historical facts.Text: Sheila Cirigola