Boi Bumbá Festival in the Amazon

“The Boi Bumbá (deriving from the Bumba-Meu Boi, see photo below) 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.

It is an incredible musical and theatrical experience, a religious procession, a tribal ritual, a giant puppet show, a fairy tale of powerful villains and brave heroes, a folk art presentation, a major party for the audience and an energizing choreography of the galera (gah-le-rah), all at once. The characters in the performance come from the Boi Bumbá tale. There are two teams called Bois (plural of Boi). Each one tells the same story in all three nights of the festival, amounting to 6 different performances of the same show. But every night is different because legends, rituals, dances, puppets, garments, alegorias, they all change and create the show anew.

There are many similar festivities in Brazil, but Parintins (in the state of Amazonas) is the home of the biggest and most impressive of all. It is both an artistic display and a dispute between two different teams: Bois Caprichoso (cah-pree-show-zol) and Garantido (gah-run-tee-dow). Boi is the Portuguese word for ox, and it is also the main character of the drama that unfolds every night in an arena closely watched by 35,000 people. After the 3-hour show of each Boi, the city has food, drinks and party for everybody. The main square, countless bars and every little corner near the Bumbódromo accommodate a crowd still full of energy to mimic the dance and songs of their favorite Boi.”  – More here

Other videos (also in Portuguese, although of the Bumba-Meu Boi) can be found here. Part 1 and Part 2.


8 thoughts on “Boi Bumbá Festival in the Amazon

  1. It’s a common error to mistake the boi-bumbá for the bumba-meu-boi. The former, Parintins. The latter, (mainly) Maranhão and other northeastern states. Your 2nd shot on the post is from the bumba-meu-boi in São Luís. I’ve got more info on my blog post bumba-meu-boi.

    All the best!

  2. Hi, both forms have common origins, the boi-bumbá evolved from the bumba-meu boi. Today, the boi-bumbá is a stadium festival very much like the samba school parades, highly commercialized. The bumba-meu-boi, on the other hand, is a more popular festival, in the strictest sense of the word, takes place all over town, everyone participates and no-one pays to be part of the party.

    Hope you get the chance one day to go to Maranhão in June. You will see how very little both festivals have in common – bar for some manifestations of the “sotaque de orquestra” in Maranhão that vaguely resemble the Amazonian boi-bumba. Have a nice weekend!

    • I think I get it now. I read on your article that one version was for tourists but I didn’t realize that was the one called the boi-bumbá vs the bumba-meu boi. …perhaps I’m still confused on the difference between the tourist version versus the commercialized version (assuming the commercialized version is not one in the same….now I think I confused myself, lol). I’ll def. look more into it and I’m sure I’ll get up there to MA later this year. Have a nice weekend yourself! Cheers

  3. Oh my Gosh! This made me think of my mother. She loves brazilian folk dance and this is her favorite because it is very popular where she is from.

  4. Pingback: Quinzena Feb/2 « Eyes On Brazil

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