Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

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Weekly Headlines

February 27, 2010

This week, Isto É reveals details of the Mensalão, one of the many on-going political scandals (a big group of congressman that were receiving a “monthly salary” to vote legislation favored by president Lula’s party, Partido dos Trabalhadores). Veja talks about the latest revolution in cosmetics and Época covers the production of a series of films about psychic Chico Xavier, that died eight years ago but who sill has a huge following.

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How to find a husband – the Brazilian way

February 18, 2010

Saint Anthony, the patron of single girls

The biological clock is ticking and Prince Charming is a no-show? You spent Valentine’s day with your Mom? No problem! Try one of these classic Brazilian spells (we call them simpatias) and then go shop for your wedding gown.

  • Buy a small statue of Saint Anthony, the patron saint of single women. Remove Baby Jesus from his arms and tell the saint you won’t return the baby unless you get a boyfriend. You can reinforce your position, keeping Anthony upside down, so he will understand you are not kidding.
  • If you consider yourself very ugly, choose a leaf of espada de São Jorge (a sword-like plant commonly used in Afro-Brazilian cults). Cut it into three pieces and throw them in boiling water for three hours. After the water cools down, wash your face with it, praying to Saint George and asking him to convert the “dragon” into a beauty.
  • Buy a new sharp knife and stick it into a banana tree on June 12th at midnight  (Saint Anthony’s day is on the 13th). The liquid that will drip from the plant’s wound will form the first letter of the name of your future husband. The mother of a friend did this. She was very upset that K appeared – it is rarely used in Brazilian names. Years later she married a visiting German, Kurt.

Keep reading

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Brazilian Baroque

February 17, 2010

Igreja de São Francisco, Mariana, in Minas Gerais state

When you think of Baroque, you probably remember the curvy, exaggerated, passionate form of art that  blossomed in Europe since the 17th century.  You may think of Caravaggio and Bernini in Italy, or the rococo in France, or Bach and Handel in Germany. Less known but equally important was the Brazilian Baroque, that dominated the art scene in the country between the end of the 17th and the 19th centuries.

Although both literature and music incorporated baroque elements, it is in architecture that Baroque really excelled.

Most baroque churches have sober exteriors that contrast with very ornate interior decoration, including chubby angels, birds, vines and a profusion of color.  Cities that were rich at the time, thanks to diamonds, gold or sugar trade, such as Salvador, in Bahia, or Ouro Preto, in Minas Gerais, could afford to use gold leaves and noble materials and to hire the best artists of the time. Among them, Antônio Francisco Lisboa, known as Aleijadinho (The Crippled, a nickname given in less politically correct times), and Manoel da Costa Athaide (or Mestre Athaide). Read the rest of this entry ?

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Weekly Headlines

February 6, 2010

This week, Veja covers the 45 days of non-stop rain in the Southeast region (that includes Rio and São Paulo), that it attributes to a “rare conjunction of meteorological factors”, including the elevation of the temperature of the South Atlantic waters. I wrote about the violent resulting floods recently. Época goes with the progress of the bionics science and Isto É goes for an unexpected topic: government officially  liberated the use of an hallucinogenic tea by the followers of Santo Daime, a cult that developed in the end of the 19th century in the Amazon and, today, is also practiced in the US and Europe.

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Iemanjá, the queen of the seas

February 2, 2010

Tonight, along the Brazilian coast, several hundred thousand people will pay their respects to Iemanjá, the queen of the seas, the beautiful orixá (deity) of candomblé, one of the main Afro-Brazilian religions. Brought to the country by the slaves of yoruba tradition, the cult of Iemanjá (or Yemanja or Janaína) can also be seen in other countries, such as neighboring Uruguay (shown in the pictures displayed here) and Cuba.

On Iemanjá Day, February 2nd, the devouts dress in white and bring to the beach all sorts of gifts for the orishá, such as mirrors and perfume (she is known for her vanity). She also receives flowers and certain dishes, such as fish, rice and a sweet milk pudding. The offerings are displayed on the sand or taken by boats further into the sea. The next morning, everything is washed back to the sand. People may also jump over seven waves and receive, over their head, a bunch of popcorn, in the candomblé tradition. In Rio, though, the celebration happens around New Year’s day.

Iemanjá‘s figure is somehow related to the cult of Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes (Our Lady of the Navigators) – a representation of Virgin Mary that is celebrated in the same day. Several orixás have “correspondent” Catholic saints because, during the slavery period, Africans were not allowed to practice their religions and had to find creative ways to keep their faith. Intertwining candomblé and Catholicism was their only option.

Gifts for the orixá displayed in a little boat in Montevideo, Uruguay