Carnival in Pipa
Carnival is Brazil's most celebrated popular festival and certainly when we think of Carnival, we soon think of samba, frevo, afoxé, maracatu and a long holiday.
But did you know that the origin of this Brazilian party is older than our own nation? Carnival has its origins in Mesopotamia, Greece and ancient Rome, from which also comes the Latin name of carnis levale, which means to withdraw the flesh, since this popular feast was related to fasting during Lent and the control of carnal pleasures.
In Babylon the festivities had the character of social subversion through foliage and comedy, which permitted the play of the temporary transformation of a common citizen into a king, from a noble into a prisoner, from one man to a woman, and for some time the popular and noble could forget the social differences playing in an uninhibited and debauched way. The sensuality and devotion to the flesh of Carnival can also be traced to the Greco-Roman bacchanals, parties marked by drunkenness, for they were dedicated to Bacchus, the god of wine.
Such feasts were pagan, but they had religious influences, with some characteristics in common between them, whether by the celebrated time and the reversal of social roles, or by the eternal dance between religious purification and surrender to worldly pleasures.
With the creation of Lent by the Church, the feasts began to be in the days before the religious period. The idea was to keep a date for people to commit their excesses before the period of religious sacrifice.
Carnival ended up gaining its own characteristics in our country from the mixture of races and beliefs that have occurred here since the time of the colony Brazil. The entrudo, for example, was a party of Portuguese origin brought to Brazil during the colonization and ended up being practiced also by the enslaved peoples. Records of people popping out on the streets with faces painted white, throwing flour and scented water on people date back to the 17th century. It was a party that also exposed social subversion, sensuality, violence and drunkenness.
Because it was a pagan popular festival and because it gained its own life in Brazil, especially through the oppressed social strata, the entrudo had its days of prohibition and the elite of the time happened to celebrate the parties in closed balls, French influence, with dance of hall accompanied by rhythms like polka and maxixe. The prohibition did not last long because it was soon swallowed up again by the street folk and the masses, where in Rio de Janeiro in the early 1920s the concept of samba schools and carnival blocks with competitive elements between them was introduced.
The rhythms accompanying foliage days have roots in common, but they can vary widely from region to region, enhancing the richness of Brazilian Carnival. In Frevo and Maracatus in Pernambuco, in the Tambor de Crioula in Maranhão, in the Batuque de Umbigada of São Paulo, in the Jongo Carioca, in the Carimbó Parana, in the Samba de Roda da Bahia or in the Coco de Zambê in Tibau do Sul, the Carnival is Brazilian and no one remains of out.
In our region, we have an authentic popular rhythm that had great evidence during the carnival of the oldest. Danced two by two, the coconut of Zambê is governed by a drum called Zambê, with a long and heavy trunk, carried among the legs of the master singer who dictates the rhythm and the songs, accompanied by the joking, dancing and drum players also called Chama, a little shorter and agile, that varies in the setback of the Zambê and are both made from the hollow of the trunk of cashew, jackfruit, cajarana, coconut tree or genipap. The chorus of the goat stretched at the end and cherished at the stake refines and keeps the drums animating the hypnotizing rhythm, with the aid of a battered tin, to the sound of songs and litanies that speak of the day to day of the ancient fishermen and residents of the region. The Zambezes of these lands animated many nights at the seaside or at the edge of the lagoon, beside the bonfire, the quitutes and a good sugar cane, the gossipers spent all night singing, drumming and dancing frantically. Its origins resemble rhythms and traditions from the enslaved Bantus people brought from the regions of Congo and Angola during the slave rule. Zambê is today a link between our most authentic roots and resists in small regional nuclei with the masters who still survive.
In Tibau do Sul and Praia da Pipa, before the strong arrival of tourism in the last decade, our region remained a calm place during the holiday, without great carnival tradition or street blocks, the tourist who came here, for just fleeing from the party of large urban centers, sought retreat in a quiet and peaceful location.
As most of the residents now work with tourism, the days before Ash Wednesday are the days when everyone here works hard to meet the high tourist demand, so when the expected ash Wednesday arrives day of the fair) is officially declared the day of everyone's revelry.
The tradition is the man to wear a quenga and the women to wear a male. From there was born the most traditional street block of Pipa and that for many years was the only, famous Block of Yahoo! This originated with the late Deepesh who owned one of the first restaurants in the village and who organized the block to cheer and unite everyone from the small fishing village that once was Praia da Pipa. Today, more than two decades later, the Yahoo! Bloc brings together every year more and more revelers of all social levels and leads the mess of ash Wednesday, with the procession crossing the entire Bay of Dolphins until arriving inside the night club Calangos.
Other random manifestations may also appear in the middle of the mela-mela of Pipa's street folk, such as the block of the Indians of Baía da Traição and the Papangús on the roadside that help to compose a rich and diverse carnival. Gradually, other residents began to cheer up the street play and organized themselves into new blocks such as the Ursa Block and the Priquiteiras that each year gain more strength and fans, and becomes part of a relatively new and well mixed regional carnival tradition .
Nowadays if you want peace of mind you have, but if you want a joke you have it too and it is a good joke that refers to the good times of street carnivals.
By Isaac Ache. Text originally published in Bora Magazine - Issue 15 - Feb / Mar 2015