Congado groups must gather 4,000 people in Mariana – 05/27/2023 – Brazil
The color of the satin ribbons and the sounds of the drums of the congado groups will once again parade through the streets of Mariana, in Minas Gerais, this year. After a long wait, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Minas Gerais square will again be the stage for the meeting of congados, a cultural manifestation created in Brazil since colonization, especially in the state, from the 18th century.
This year, 4,000 people are expected, with the participation of 14 Congo groups from ten cities in Minas Gerais. Last year, with the presence of people still restricted because of the pandemic, the feast of the Divine attracted half of the public.
The event takes place during the program of the Festa da Bandeira do Divino Espírito Santo, this Saturday and Sunday (27 and 28), on the Solemnity of Pentecost. Celebrated on Sunday, the party takes place 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus and, according to Catholic tradition, symbolizes the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles.
The full party returns after four years, since the last edition with a full audience was in 2019. “There was a bit of that nostalgia about these moments, even though they only happen once a year”, says photographer César do Carmo, who accompanies the meeting since its first edition, held in 2008.
For him, the meeting can be described as a festival of colors and music. “Each one has its characteristic, has its peculiarity, you know? So, it’s very interesting”.
According to historian Solange Palazzi, this form of expression brings aspects, ways of being, praying and understanding the spirituality inherited from the people who came from Africa.
“It is not an African manifestation, it is not a Brazilian manifestation; it is the result of the combination of our colonization process”, he says.
Despite being popularly called congado, this demonstration features a plurality of groups such as the Guards of Congo, Mozambique, Guard of São Jorge, Sailors, Catopes, etc. In common, all groups are devotional to Our Lady of the Rosary.
The particularity of each one, according to the historian, is related to the brotherhoods of Nossa Senhora do Rosário and the areas of colonization. The term “congado”, according to her, was consolidated after Chico Rei, a popular figure in the oral tradition of Minas Gerais who was king in the Congo and was sent to Brazil to be enslaved.
Having prospered through mining, in the region of Ouro Preto, he bought his own manumission and that of other enslaved people.
With their flags and musical instruments, the 14 groups will travel on Saturday, the 27th, from the tourist terminal in Mariana to Praça Minas Gerais.
Upon arrival, individual presentations will begin to then participate in the procession of the Divine flag and the raising of the flagpole.
“This part of the novena, raising the mast, gathering the community around the stalls, bringing joy to the feast of the saint, is something that the congado does with great pleasure, with great joy”, says the historian.
To welcome the congadeiros, Minas Gerais square, Dom Silvério street and the Waldemar Moura Santos slope will be decorated in red and white.
Present on the flags, pennants and other ornaments, the colors are used to represent the descent of the Holy Spirit on earth.
According to Father Geraldo Dias Buziani, from the Nossa Senhora da Assunção Parish, in Hebrew culture, the feast of Pentecost had an agrarian connotation, of thanksgiving for the harvest. “In the Christian faith, it celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and Mary Most Holy, gathered in the Cenacle, in Jerusalem. Therefore, it is the feast of manifestation, of revelation, in which Jesus Christ sends the Holy Spirit upon the Church, the Holy Spirit Holy One who proceeds from the Father and the Son”.
In Mariana, it is estimated that the celebration of the Divine dates back to the 18th century. It has been organized since 2007 by the Confraria do Divino Espírito Santo, linked to the parish. In addition to the celebrations of masses and novenas, there is also the blessing and distribution of bread and medals and the draw and coronation of the emperor.