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Parintins - Caprichoso versus Garantido
The Festival of Parintins, which happens at the end of every June in the city of Parintins, is one of the largest popular feasts in Brazil.
When migrants came to the Amazon during the rubber cycle (read more about History of Amazonas), they brought along the tradition of the boi-bumbá, very popular in the States of Northeast.
The tradition says that, once upon a time, a pregnant woman wanted to eat the tongue of an ox; to satisfy her, the husband kills the most beloved ox in the farm. The priest of the village is called and says that the population must organize parties and celebrate feasts which, if happy enough, will bring the animal back to life.
Over the years, groups have been disputing which one can elaborate the most creative and artistic coreography to bring the animals back to life; with variations, the tradition of boi-bumbá (or bumba-meu-boi) is maintained in several Brazilian States.
In Parintins, the disputes used to cause fights and even deaths; in 1965, trying to make the event more peaceful, the Church proposed that the population was divided into two groups, and the contest would be held in a terrain right in front of the city chapel.
Since then, the festival has become a mega-event; the city, of 100,000 inhabitants, receives another 100,000 tourists during the days of the Parintins Festival. The population is spontaneously divided into two groups: the sympathizers of the Boi Azul (Blue Ox - actually, a black ox with a blue star), called Caprichoso, and the sympathizers of the Boi Vermelho (Red Ox - actually, a white ox with a red heart), Garantido. The enthusiasm of the supporters borders the fanatism.
The official contest is held today in a stadium called Bumbódromo, which fits 35,000 people. Caprichoso and Garantido perform during three nights (in 2005, the event happened on the 24th, 25th and 26th of June), and a comission elects the winner (in 2005, for the third year in a row, Garantido won).
An interesting rule is that, during the performance of one Ox, the adversaries must keep absolute silence; any negative manifestation may cause penalties. Also, all sponsors must give equal support to both groups; this caused the uncanny situation of Coca-Cola having to produce a version of its worldwide recognized red logo in a blue color, only to appear beside the Blue Ox.
As there is not room in the Bumbódromo for all the audience, the partiers invade the streets of Parintins and feast practically 24 hours a day. Hotels get crowded, as well as all means of transportation to reach the city; most people sleep in the same boats which travel 20 hours from Manaus to Parintins (the trip back may take twice as long).
The fame of Parintins is still growing, and attracting the attention of investors. In 2005, Coca-Cola not only sponsored the Oxen, but also checked their guests into the Iberostar Grand Amazon, a floating five-star hotel which opened in May.
With 74 luxury cabins, the Iberostar will offer cruises along the rivers Amazonas, Solimőes and Negro.
Read more about the Parintins Festival:
Parintins Festival. On-line coverage of the festival. Includes photos and videos.
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