Enjoy Carnival in Paraty!
Carnival in Parati. Paraty hosts a Carnival of their own that has a very different flavor from the famous Rio de Janeiro Carnival. Paraty’s version is much more traditional, less crowded and set in a utopian environment; it is closer to Venice’s version than Rio’s. In Carnival, Paraty’s celebrations play on fantasies, with masked blocos , or carnival groups, along with children and adults in fancy dress and effigies of famous personalities. Costumes are black or white, king or pauper. They often aim (harmlessly) to scare the passers-by with skulls and deformed papier machê heads. While most of Carnival celebrations take place in the historic district of Paraty, there are plenty of other events on the local beaches, including the Bloco de Lama (block of mud), which traditionally starts from the Praia do Jabaquara before continuing around the town. This group represents a prehistoric tribe whose objective is to frighten off evil spirits.
Origins of the Carnival in Paraty
The origin of the first carnival “blocos” (Brazilian street parade groups) in Paraty’s Carnival is uncertain. By 1920 there were some carnival clubs and “bands” such as the ‘Lira da Juventude’ and the ‘Vinte e Cinco de Dezembro’ that celebrated Carnival with several gigs referred to as “Ze Pereira” at the time.
At the beginnings, these blocos were constituted only by masked men. Since 1928, women joined the blocos. One of the most famous blocos of this period was organised by a black woman, ‘O Bloco da Lalá’.
The “Zé Pereira” blocos were forme bay “wings”, of different colours and carrying big paper lamps and “perfume bombs“. At that stage there were three major blocos: the “Bloco dos Tenentes”, the “Bloco dos Fenianos” and the “Democratas”.The first one, went out clad in red and black; the second in pink and green; and the third in black and white. They sang songs that commented on the local and national politics. In total, nowadays there are seven blocos in the Paraty Carnival.
Remember that Carnival is one of the most busy times in the Paraty and Rio de Janeiro area. Therefore is advisable to book your Carnival accommodation in Paraty in advance, since there’s usually a full occupancy.
The “Bloco da Lama”
This is probably the most famous of the Paraty blocos. Its originality and awkwardness has attracted the attention of media and the curiosity of public.
It was created in a Saturday of Carnival at the beginning of the 90s, by some friends that were bathing themselves in the medicinal mud of the Praia do Jabaquara. They noticed that they could not recognize each other and decided to wear such as strange ‘costume’ that Carnival evening.
The next year, a larger group met and formed a bloco for that Carnival Saturday, this time presenting themselves as a prehistoric tribe: covered in mud, from head to toes, clad in rugs, carrying skulls and bones, yelling ?uga, uga, rá, rá!?.
They grew so much in number that the Paraty Tourism Office, the organiser of Carnival and the bloco itself had to start a campaign explaining the need not to leave mudo n the historical buildings, in order to, paradoxically, clear out the name of the bloco (literally, the mud bloco) and help preserve this new tradition.
Each year the Bloco da Lama has more members. The last carnivals it has paraded with more two thousand members. They say its parade on Carnival Saturday casts evil spirits away and summons joy to the Paraty Carnival. Every year, this bloco bid farewell to Carnival taking a bath at the river and leaving a message of peace for the city.