VIVA BAHIA A"D C,..RIFESTA
The strange story of the Bahians and the famous folk grjup from
Bshia (Viva Bahia) which will be participating in CARIFESTA and reflect
in micro-cosmic fashion the rhythmic heartbeat and lovable heritage of
100,000,000 Brazilians begn'r four hundred and sixty years ago.
Then, Indian cannibals with threatening warclubs, poison darts,
war paint and feathered headdresses watched in amazement as a white being
arose like a silver fish from the blue waters with a magic stick that
belched fire and brought down a bird out of the blue in a flash of lightning.
"Caramuru! Caramuru! A Godl A God!" They cried and gave the
C-zciaue's daughter Peraguacu as a gift to this "sun of the thunderclap"!
And so the Bahian the Brazilian ....was born.
For that god was none other than Diogo Alvares, a shipwrecked
Portuguese sailor who climbed ashore on the sacred spot that is now the
City of Salvador de Bahia de Todos os Santos.
The Viva Bahin folk group, which will be coming for CARIFESTA,
bring with them, in sDng ,nd dance, tales of strange rituals...Candomble
and Capoeirea.... all the magic and enchantment that covered the Brazilian
scene from that day centuries :go when Alvares landed on the shores of
It has been said that every Brazilian both Vourng and old who
lives outside the State of Bahia has three dreams ....that of shaking the
hands of Kirg Pelo; seeing the Viva Bahia perform at concerts that draw
hundreds of thousands of people; and the last and most important dream
is to walk through the streets of 3-hi and visit the shrines of their
forefathers....to store at the Sea Francisco Church with its pulpit and
interior all gilded in gold.
It is strange how a friendly EBrzili:n would speak excitedly
and with pride of his country's development....of the Rio Amazonas, which
the natives saoy washes for six months and falls for the some period....
of Sao Paulo where daily a thousand children are brought into the world
and 500 extra vehicles join the busy traffic in its 24,000 streets. He
would talk of Rio De Janeiro....the city of Festivals and easy going life
where the endless beckoning beach, the samba, carnival and football are
b-lvays present and of course he must speak of Pele the football hero.
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And then the stranger may ask him about Bahia. Strange how the face
of the Brazilian guest changes....there is a sudden twinkle in his eyes and
his voice takes on a tender, lovable, whisper like form...."Ah Senor.....
Bahia!" He would explain almost musically and all of his drezilian pride
erupts in all its splendour in his bosom.... for Bahia is like the cultural
Mecca of Brezil.
Our Braziliia friend will love you so much because you love to hear
about his Sahi3....and he will tell you all. He would talk and talk, get
hungry and not know it. The Brazilian loves talking about Bahia the
cradle of Brazil.
An introduction to the folk-art and life of Bahia is an introduction
to a fairyland-like world....to the Viva Bahia and all that it means. They
portray in their song and dance....the many festivals....street festival,
church festivals, strange voodoo festivals....unique festivals that bare
the mark of the mixed Brazilians blood ....their mestize culture and
It is an introduction to the Festival of the Immaculate Conception
when the people prepare mounL'ins of food and the world famous Capoeira
wrestlers rush into thj throbbi' crowd before the church, in the streets
and the plazas and do a "dance fight" to the t.nging bows and rhythms of
The Capoeira a form of wrestling was brought to Brazil from
Angola in the holds of slave chips. The agility and strange techniques
of the Capoeira fighters made them almost invincible and as a result
there were many police decrees, persecutions and violence. The old
Capoeira giants-like "Gods 3eloved Swmuel" who were as quick as lightn-'
ing and fought until they were about 80 years old became legends in their
lifetime and are now folk heroes.
Today in Bahia even +t' children still hear tales of these famous
wrestlers. There -as the celebrated Ecsouro (the beetle) for example
who is not forgotten in Reconcave....There is Chico Porreta, the hero
of legendary fights against the militia. Even the Governors, the people
and his fellow wrestlers said that he had a pact with Lucifer...."he
would disappear in a puff of smoke just when the soldiers thought they
had him cornered"....
Many more have left their names in Bahian annals and the hearts of
the people. Like Ze Dou, Tibiri da Folha Grossa, Pantalona, Sessenta
and Gazumba the butcher.
Najo was said to be a monument of courage; he went down fighting
barefisted against five armed fishermen in front of St. .l* '.'s Fort.
It is felt by many people that the greatest .'-i te specialist today
would have been cut down in minutes by these famous Capoeira fighters
of Brazil. There is still Capoeira in Bahia and other parts of Brazil
today....but the Copoeire now fight to music .... this sport of death
is now infused with rhythmic movement, love and life, It is felt that
Capoeira done by the Viva Behia Group will be the biggest attraction.
One learns that January brings the great festival of "Our Lord of
Z omfim" when the entire population of rahie virtually move all of their
belongings to the sacred hill. Come Thursday and Saturday and Sunday on
which the high holidays always fall and with them come thousands of women
"Bahainas" with sacred s,'nG, water and a million flowers to "wash the
Church and perform the Procession of the Waters" rites that their
forefathers have enacted for hundreds of years.
It is in this unique feast that the awe of Afro-Brazilian religious
fervour blooms in all its majesty....and here too maybe more than anywhere
else in the Caribbean and Latin America many religions and fused into one
by the masses.... the Indian, i.',iro, Portuguec'. and the lot.
Here the people honour a catholic saint Our Lord of Bomfim and the
greatest of African deities in Brazil....Ozala the Universal Father;
and in February the whole of Bahia go down to the waterside to offer
gifts to the lIthc: of Waters "Yemanja", All of these colourful cere-
monies transform Bahia into a world of unique religious folk Carnivals
infused with images of devotion and the land.
And equally exciting presentation of the Bahia folk group will be
imrais of Candopble representing the religions which the slaves brought
with them from .many African regions especially the Congo, Ketu and
In Bahia alone there are some 1,000 Candomblcs or voodoo temples
registered leg1llJ. And since each Candomble has many ceremonies there
are some 3,000 strange but dazzling ceremonies annually in Bahia alone
in which the rich and poor, prosperous midrJle class or petite bourgeoisie
gyrate in solemn fashion to the beat of drums controlled by "alabes".
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In B-hi- these spirit houses -re in c'._r corner and the
r.Jh-rent-- ere '..'hite, Indian, ".';-r. and all thct make up the Brazilian
pot-u-,rri. The C-ndomble now deas not belong to Africa but to Brazil,.
G'3--'..', C lboclo and the rest E.l n-: to the land and the Brazilians,
the B3hi-ns are proud of them.
But what of the artistic craftsmen of Bchia. To the folk
crtisan, making intricate silver ware and copper figures, turning out
the traditional ceramics of ,'-r-~;iFinho and unique w Id c-rvings
depicting clenched fist with thunb between forefinger including the
forearm is an art th.t is said t. have been cjiven originally by the
aged elders in villc-.s b-ck in .:: to the slaves who were coming
to the new world as a remembrance 7f their homaland.
Tr. ",:,.:c'' c silver clsp with chain cnd fruit is also
still mode. This ornament was Jiven to the r-:zili'-, slsva by his
master. The m.re cc-r.. rative the slave tha mora silver fruits wore
added to his clasp by the master. The more silver fruits mcant that
the slcve was nearer tc freedrm. In the case cf death t1h ":,rc-"
paid for a funeral in the style the slave deserved.
The literary -s.ct of the 2razilion Cultural scene is
dominated by C:rlos Drummond De Andrado, Indeed his phenemenal
development has pnrclell.d -11 sf the lit rary movements in Brazil.
Hi' works appears to be inffIu.nced cr-itly by EurLpocn techniques
n,. r the rising figures on the Brazilian literary scenn
is Jo Cabr-l De MNlo N-tc.. To Caribboun raat'jrs 2rfili:n litcruture
is dominated by the s'cialogic-l studies -f Gilba-rtc Froyre and the
novelist, Jorre Amnado hcse works have been translated int- m-ny
Profass-r 'i-.to, the Cultural Att-che tc the Brazilian
Emb-ssy in Gu -n- h s d.-ne a groat de-l by way .tf explaining the
Brazilian Li: r-ry scene to thu Guynnese ..-1!
In B-'-i" the p4uplU's s7ul blow up in rnth.r, cclour and
dance and strong ritual ann the Vivae 3hia rr-- c0-tures all this
n-eic of the people. Bahi- is the birth pleco cf ':-zil and the Viva
-;:hia gr-.u- captures the birth thre-s :f its mother, the cry, joy,
love and lifo 2f the child. Fron the hoart of Bohie tho Vive
P-.hia will bring the whole enchanting world of DBrzil tc the world
of C RIFE.ST,\.I