The Rio de Janeiro carnival is a very popular one held before the Lent in Brazil in a city called Rio also known as “Cidade Maravilhosa” (The Marvellous City) to Brazilians. It attracts tourist and participants from around the world. The number of tourist in attendance each year has been estimated to 500,000. It starts on Friday and ends on a Tuesday before Ash Wednesday
The events of the carnival surges from the soul of the Brazilians as it an essential part of their cultural heritage and history
This carnival sums up the Brazilian culture, the music, dance, religion and food. It starts with the crowning of the Fat King (King Momo) and his duty is to lead the people to have a merry carnival. Then the carnival events are held everywhere in the city, during these days the city is shut down as every street, squares, bar clubs in the city reverberates with drums, singing and dancing. Parades featuring elaborate floats flanked by thousands of drummers and twirling dancers culminate the festivities.
The Samba parade is an essential and captivating part of the carnival. It showcases colourful and creative costumes ranging from the intricately designed to the completely outlandish and dance competitions between the Rio Samba Schools an event that has made the Rio Carnival famous.
While the origin of carnival trace back to the ancient Romans and Greeks, carnivals in Brazil have been highly influenced by the African culture. The celebration was first brought to Rio in 1850 and was a show for the city’s bourgeoisie. The carnival as we know it today started in the mid-20th century, results from the influence of the Africans slaves who were brought into the country over a period of 300 years. After the abolition of the slave trade in Brazil in 1888, the rituals of the Catholic former colonialist and their former slave merged to form the origins of the modern carnival.
The poor people from the slums who reside in a place called ‘Little Africa’ are called the favelas and are the ones who ‘make’ the carnival. These are the pepole you should be on the look out for if you are thinking of attending.
The streets of Rio used to be the venue for the carnival. The hedonistic city bursting with colour and radiance from the sun is hugged by rainforest clad cliffs and the sea and its prehistoric magnificence give the city its splendour but as the celebration became more popular so much so it has been named the largest party in the world, a stadium called the Sambodromo has been built to accommodate the large number of participants and spectators it attracts. It is the biggest carnival in the world, has earned a Guinness Wold Record and also a yardstick to which other carnivals are measured.
The word carnival originally originates from the Latin word Carne Valle meaning “goodbye to meat” It was used to mark the last day of lent where people celebrate by having street feast for the days they had stayed away from meat, fasting. It is quite different now!
And as the Rio Carnival official websites enjoins “Go for the experience of a life-time! See, breathe, sense and live with us carnival”.