It’s that time of the year again…
February. The month when more people sink into depression than any other! Needless to say, Valentine’s Day is at the heart of both this month and the cause of utter despair amongst our lot.
But, come February, in a country far far away, people are anything but depressed! Our irmaos and garotas (boys and girls) in Brazil are gearing up for the wildest parties in the world- the infamous Brazil carnival!!
Party, party, party!
Dancers of a samba school parade on a float
Interestingly, partying may seem the most consistent activity that Brazilians indulge in. Celebrations start in most cities in Brazil in November, because, ‘hey, December is round the corner!’ And January is spent in mild but regular partying, because just to go cold turkey on festa (party) just isn’t something they do.
Just about when Brasilieros are recovering from late last year and early new year’s excesses; they have to prepare for a week long celebration of culture, love, life and everything in between.
It is tough being a Brazilian… you will agree.
Carnival, and yes, it actually has a religious significance!
Carnival falls about 46 or 51 days before Easter, depending on which travel website you happen to read. They say that the tradition originated with the followers of the Roman Catholic Church indulging in sins like alcohol, meat and mind blowing sex one last time before the onset of Lent. That is the boring period when you have to abstain from all the things mentioned earlier. Which means you basically give up on everything that is ACTUALLY good before Easter comes around.
Now leave it up to the Brazilians to take sins and celebrations pretty seriously. At some point, the Carnival became a week long affair, and my native friends say that the Carnival spirit is on for the entire month.
By now, you may want to know what exactly happens during the Carnival.
Trust me you don’t want to know (so really, you DO wanna know).
No, I have never been to the carnival in Brazil; but the four months I did travel in Brazil, Carnival was recurrent in every conversation.
Dancing to the rhythm of life.
Vocalist of the ultra famous band Timbalada
There is one thing which makes the carnival in Brazil special. Be it the world famous one in Rio, or the one in Salvador, Recife or Florianapolis; and that is the beautiful amalgamation of music! Anyone who has spent time listening to Bossa Nova, Samba or Batucada already knows what I mean. If there is one country that can beat all the others on the back of the richness and variety of its music, then it is Brazil.
And it is during the Carnival that all of Brazil’s musicality comes raging out on the streets. The country’s best musicians and groups perform amongst a sea of people. The one in Salvador is known for its blocos(groups) of Afro-Brazilian musicians and the Rio carnival was made famous by the performances in the Sambodrome. If there is one fun-filled, foot tapping crash course to Brazil’s musical side, then it has to be the Carnival in February. Check out this article for carnivals other than the world famous Rio carnival.
Carnival means colour.
The nutty carnival culture!
If music isn’t an intrinsic part of a country’s culture, then what is? Right? Beyond the groovy and soul stirring music, the carnivals are also a great display of Brazil’s cultural diversity. It is in the carnivals that, if you look closely, you notice the melting pot that is Brazil. The carnival represents most of Brazil’s ethnocultural aspects from the European dominated southern region to the north eastern one which has a greater African influence. All of this also gets reflected in the smorgasbord of colours that each of the Carnivals and their performers offer.
And if all of this along with gazillion litres of Beer or Cerveja is not enough to make you heady, then there is something else. Sensuality…
Sensuality, the biggest attraction?
Eye candy much?
Brazilian carnivals are the annual display of the country’s sensual and liberal side. It is an open secret that things tend to get a bit frisky at the carnival in Rio, but other cities are not too far behind. It is not just hearsay that in Rio, you can walk around and kiss people of the opposite gender(and your own,or both, whatever floats your boat). Depending on the colour of the ribbon you tie, it can start from a peck, to a kiss…ending all the way in the sack. So if a girl or boy lets you tie a particular colour, it means they are in agreement with what comes next.
Curse yourself if you are still struggling to tie a ribbon to that girl in college(or at work), with whom all you want to do is, well… talk.
There is of course gross competition among the carnivals. When I spent two months living in Salvador, the capital of the north-eastern state of Bahia, my friends there were hell bent on proving that the carnival in Salvador was crazier than the one in Rio. Check this article for how crazy the carnival can get!
“Many married men excuse themselves under the pretext of running an errand, just to go to the carnival streets and steal a few kisses before returning home. No wonder it is during carnival that men develop a sudden interest in running errands!”, exclaimed a Baiana(Bahian woman) friend.
And that is why I think I do not want to go to what probably is the best cultural and human extravaganza in the world. Because, it might be too much for me to handle. It might be a challenge to digest this extra sensory madness.
That is why I am going to see you at the carnival in 2018. It is always great to take on a challenge…