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Reply To: When Mythology meets Dance and Sounds,” with Dr. Monica Martinez”


    Dear James,

    Thank you for your message. Yes, we are blessed in Brazil for having in our day to day many strong influences of Afro and native people. It is present in the names of streets and places, in the cuisine, in the myths, in religious traditions such as Candomblé and Umbanda and in our music. As you are a percussionist, perhaps you know that in São Paulo there is a wonderful mass that welcomes the tradition of African peoples inside the Catholic Church, devoted to the great black mother, celebrating with drums and the wonderful white clothes of the “baianas” the Mother’s Day. The patron saint of Brazil herself, Nossa Senhora Aparecida (“aparecida” — emerged — is a reference to the story that she was rescued from the river bed by fishermen) is black, like many traditional black madonnas, as the French one at the Chartres cathedral Campbell loved so much. Another example is that the beginning of the year is traditionnaly celebrated with offerings of white flowers for Iemanjá, the great mother of the sea (2022 is dedicated to her), so that she can open the paths of a prosperous year. It is a mixed culture indeed, the Brazilian, in which various beliefs interrelate in a more or less harmonious way. In this sense, these various traditions usually “dance” along more or less in harmony. More recently, with the rise of neo-evangelists, there is a certain part of the population that tends to see this mixture in a more fundamentalist way. It is a shame, because a typical Brazilian person can go on a weekend to pay her/his respect to an Afro-Brazilian service and on the following to a Catholic church mass and even on a third to an Ayasca ceremony, take a pass at a spiritist center or be blessed by a “benzedeira” and all these cultural layers intertwine in his/her life in a very ecletic and without conflicts way.

    About Carnival, the pandemic messed up the calendar a little bit and this year it will be celebrated at the end of April. But it will be a celebration after two years without parades, probably still shy, but enough for many Brazilians to return to singing and dancing in small carnival blocks in the streets – a tradition that restarted about five years ago that is simple, costless and charming.

    Thank you for the very warm welcome and so glad to engage on this conversation!