Wednesday, August 8th, 2018 will see the beginning of the second Festa Literária Internacional do Pelourinho, running through Sunday, August 12th.
The opening will be highly auspicious and full of axé (the vital life force as posited in candomblé) emanating from a stage in the Largo do Pelourinho and the Concerto Afro Barroco of venerable Mateus Aleluia upon that stage.
Mateus was a member of legendary vocal trio Os Tincoãs, from Cachoeira, Bahia, and he continues in the tradition of their music (he was the principal songwriter)…based in candomblé.
This inaugural show will take place at 8 p.m. (and of course is free to the public).
Saturday and Sunday, August 4th and 5th, 2018, will see an encounter of Cheganças (also referred to as a “Marujada”) in the Recôncavo town of Saubara, on the far side of the bay from Salvador.
Among many festivities, the “main thing” will be a parade of the various groups on Sunday, from 3 p.m.
Cheganças/Marujadas are ritual reenactments of the exploits of sailors in episodes having to do with Bahian/Brazilian history. These reenactments are highly Afro-Brazilianized, stories sung while the parading participants accompany themselves on homemade pandeiros (tambourines).
This coming Sunday is the lavagem of the Igreja (Church) São Domingos in Saubara (a “lavagem” in this sense is a ritual washing of the steps of a Catholic church by women of candomblé; more on this in our Festas section).
Following the lavagem and a procession through the town a marujada will take place. This is, fundamentally, a highly ritualized reenactment of the adventures of sailors responsible for the settlement of Brazil from across the Atlantic, with sung stories accompanied by pandeiros (Brazilian tambourines).
All of this is done in great high spirits! É festa no interior! It’s a party in the interior!
Saubara is situated in the Recôncavo across the bay from Salvador. There’s a map on the page linked to from below (I’m not referring to the antique map at the top; there’s another more clearly marked map a bit further down the page…).
Grupo Botequim at Velho Espanha in the central Salvador neighborhood of Barris (around the corner and down the street from where I’ve been living for the past 20 years).
I can’t praise Grupo Botequim highly enough! Fantastic repertoire (for a samba lover) very well played.
The only qualifier I have about this place is that the musicians are tucked into the end of a small, and what will be very crowded, place. Later arrivers will have a hard time getting the full — secularly religious — effect of real samba, where people gather around the musicians and sing along.
The venue — Velho Espanha — is interesting in that it is a hangout for the young and hip, who over the past several years have embraced roots samba as something cool. Finally my late teenage children are seeing that their old father and his old musician friends and idols have been cool all along!
Acupe is a village on the northern end of the Baía de Todos os Santos in the Recôncavo, a place of immense cultural richness. Sunday will be a day of samba-de-roda (primordial Afro-Bahian samba) and Nego Fugido (something like a reenactment of the days of slavery when the capitães de mato — bush captains — would chase down runaway slaves).
There will also be caretas everywhere…people dressed up as monsters, the masks traditionally made of papier-mâché…but often now (particularly when worn by kids) store bought, like Halloween masks in the United States.
Acupe is situated in the Recôncavo across the bay from Salvador. There’s a map on the page linked to from below (I’m not referring to the antique map at the top; there’s another more clearly marked map a bit further down the page…).
Grupo Botequim will play in the pátio behind the Igreja (Church) de Santo Antônio in Salvador’s Largo do Santo Antônio, from 9 p.m. or so.
This is real samba…the group concentrates on music of the great sambistas of Salvador…and wonderful stuff written in the earlier decades of the twentieth century. True to the art! Beer served on the premises, sold by the parish priest!
As on Christmas Day afternoons and Sunday evenings during childhood…that sense of disappointment which manifests itself after the eagerly anticipated has arrived, and passed…one (when in Brazil’s Nordeste, child or not), might be inclined to likewise feel let down after the sustained explosion of the June festivities which reach their climax on the eve of the Festa de São João (Feast Day of St. John the Baptist), on June 23rd (the festa/feast day itself being June 24th).
But no, dear amigos, the landing is gentle and continues to move. The festivities, although attenuated, continue to and through the Festa de São Pedro — the man with the Key — on June 29th. I will keep you apprised of festival-related happenings here in Pelourinho…
If one is in Salvador and feeling truly social there’s really only one place to be on the evening before the feast day of São João: Pelourinho, the Centro Histórico.
This is of course the night of the biggest of the June parties, and as certainly as Silent Night will be heard on Christmas Eve in Peoria, forró will be heard — and danced to — across the Nordeste of Brazil (of which Bahia is an integral part).
Here in Pelourinho there will be forró in the Terreiro de Jesus, in the Largo do Pelourinho, in Largo Pedro Archanjo, and in Largo Teresa Batista, a number of groups playing sequentially in each place. There will be thousands of people here. There will be the traditional liqueurs including jenipapo, tamarindo, milho (corn), amendoim (peanut; my favorite), maracujá (passion fruit; watch out who you drink it with!) and lots and lots of cerveja. There will be the traditional bombas (firecrackers) which originated supposedly as noisemakers to scare off evil spirits (do evil spirits frighten so easily?) in Europe during the festivities on the vesper of the feast of St. John the Baptist.
This is a great holiday and with respect to all wherever it’s celebrated it’s hard to imagine it being done better that they do it here in Brazil (where much if most is done badly…but not parties, music & dancing).