Every year, many tourists come to visit São Luis to appreciate the bumba-meu-boi. In Maranhão, the bumba-meu-boi is a cultural identity of our people.
The bumba-meu-boi is a typical dance from Maranhão. Who doesn’t know “the land of palm trees”, the Maranhão is located in northeast of Brazil in which the " festa junina" is very popular in this region. Its capital is the São Luis city or it is known “the island of love” or “ the Brazilian Jamaica”.
The Maranhão has the name of “the land of palms trees” in homage to Gonçalves Dias’s poem. But, why "festa junina"? The "Festa junina" has that name because the most of popular parties from catholic origin are celebrated in June. In this month, the commemorative dates are Saint Anthony, Saint John, Saint Peter and Saint Martial.
Despite the Protestantism has increased strongly in Brazil; the catholic religion is still the official religion due the Portuguese colonization. In addition, the First Portuguese expeditions brought up the Catholicism with the mission to expand it all over Brazilian territories.
The first popular manifestations of bumba-meu -boi were in 19th century. The funny story comes to the legend, when a woman called Katirina who is pregnant and desires to eat the ox’s tongue. So, her husband named Francisco kills the animal and gives its tongue for his wife can eat it. The farmer find out that one of his oxen was sacrificed by Francisco to satisfy the Katirina's wish. Then, Francisco goes to the local tribe to resuscitate the ox. At the end of folk tale, the healer brings it back to life.
For that reason, the bumba-meu-boi is celebrated in anywhere in Maranhão! The main characters of this lovely performance are cowboys, Indians (women and men dressed up of native Indians), ox, Katirina and Francisco. Its songs have three different rhythms. The rhythms are orchestra, zabumba and matraca (noisemaker). The zabumba and matraca are more popular than orchestra.
The zabumba uses an instrument similar to drum and matraca (noisemaker) uses two small wooden slats to make an exotic sound. The songs are often based on the local cultural. So, if you're thinking of visit Brazil! Come to São Luis of Maranhão!