FOR Brazilians around the world, it is the season of Festa Junina, and Guyanese along with members of the diplomatic community last Saturday had a taste of the flavour and frolic of the gala celebration of the festival at the Brazil-Guyana Cultural Centre at 309 Church Street, Queenstown. The event, the 20th to have been held in Georgetown, was hosted by the Brazilian Embassy in Georgetown.
Among the distinguished gathering were First Lady Sandra Granger; Brazilian Ambassador to Guyana, Lineu Pupo De Paula and spouse; U.S. Deputy Head of Mission Bryan Hunt; U.S. Ambassador to Guyana Perry Holloway; and Director of the Centro Cultural Brasil-Guiana, Marcio de Melo Teixeira.
The two-phase celebration began with a colourful party for children followed by one designated for adults.
The Brazilian June Festival is a traditional celebration of the farm-country lifestyle and features typical food, drinks, music and dancing.
At this time of the year, often extending into July in some parts of the country, folk in the city and in the country gather to make merry and enjoy the season’s treats.
As in Guyana during Mashramani, during Brazil’s June Festival, neighbourhoods, streets, schools and public buildings are decorated with flags, balloons and colourful buntings.
Hand-crafted bonfires and hot-air balloons also add to the spectacular décor for the celebrations.
And last Saturday’s celebrations, it was not different. There were little children dressed as hillbillys, adorned in checkered shirts, straw hats and long boots, evoking the image of farmers who leave work on the land and head straight to the party to meet the ladies in plaits, hats and flowery dresses, colourfully and beautifully decorated.
Meanwhile, Brazilian dances were featured by dandily dressed boys and girls who agreeably regaled the spectators.
Mr Teixeira explained that the centre-stage music of the season is the traditional forro and a lot of this was played.
He also outlined that another main feature of the Festa Junina is the ‘Farm Wedding and Dance,’ Cassamento na Roca e Quadrilha, which is an enactment of a wedding ceremony, followed by a jolly dance with the wedding guests, and indeed that took centre stage at the performances last evening.
And the director, commenting on the celebration of the farm-country lifestyle, said the crops form the latest harvest yield of delicious food – sweet and savoury, as well as a range of beverages and cocktails, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic.
The prized Brazil’s world-renowned Caipirinha made with lime, sugar and ice was readily available on this occasion. Caipirinha, he says, means “little hillbilly.” Also on display was a wide range of delicacies and sweet meats, all made Brazilian style.
The hillbilly or the country folk, he said, are the ones who actually take care of Brazil’s agriculture. They are very important people in Brazil because of their activities, their joy and their lifestyle.
Director Teixeira also said that the festival is a traditional celebration in Brazil and is one of the largest across the country.
It takes on different forms, since Brazil is very big, but in all five regions of Brazil, the June Festival is celebrated. The festival dates back to the era of Portuguese colonisation. (Shirley Thomas)