Festival celebrates culture in Brazil's drab capital

Mon Feb 1, 2010 5:34pm EST
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By Ana Nicolaci da Costa

BRASILIA (Reuters Life!) - Brazil's modern capital is often seen as sterile but an annual religious music festival celebrating the visit of the Three Wise Men to see Jesus showed how much soul lies behind the city's geometrical landscape.

During the "Folia de Reis" at the weekend musicians sang of religion and love accompanied by folk instruments. Three Wise Men dressed in colorful gowns, blessed the music as they kissed each group's emblematic flags at the end of the performances.

Only 20 minutes away from Brasilia's endless roundabouts and world-renowned architecture, people from all over Latin America's largest country gather on the outskirts of the city once a year to celebrate the event.

Traditional music groups visit people's houses, bringing song and dance, and sometimes even donations, in honor of the Three Wise Men who are said to have given gifts to Jesus after his birth.

"The aim is to show the identity of the rural culture of the Federal District state, which existed before the construction of Brasilia," said Volmi Batista da Silva, 52, who organized the event he says has been going on since 2001.

"Brazil's popular culture still suffers very strong discrimination. That's because the roots culture is more linked to the countryside than to urban population."

Children played at the festival and couples wearing cowboy hats and gold-buckled belts danced to the music. A woman swayed, her hands held up in the air, as if she were praying.

An old man sang of lost love, while teenagers crooned Brazilian folk music called Sertanejo.   Continued...