Rio Carnival: Tribute to Afro-Brazilian God Wins Title

Grande Rio's parade aimed to promote respect for Afro-Brazilian religions
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BBC- A samba group which highlighted prejudices against Afro-Brazilian religions has been crowned as the champion of this year’s hotly-contested carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro.

The Grande Rio Samba School won its first title with a song, costume and floats that paid tribute to Exú, a god revered by many African cultures.

A man playing the orisha Exú takes part in the Grande Rio paradeImage source, Getty Images
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Exú is a benevolent spirit who serves as a messenger between Heaven and Earth

Afro-Brazilian religions have come under attack from Evangelical Churches, which mistakenly label Afro-Brazilian deities as demons.

Grande Rio, which is based in the poor neighbourhood of Duque de Caixas, said it wanted to show a more positive side of Afro-Brazilian religions.

embers of the Grande Rio samba school perform during a carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, early 24 April 2022Image source, EPA
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Dancers wore elaborate headdresses
Members of Grande Rio samba school during the Special Group Parade on day four of the Rio de Janeiro 2022 Carnival at Marques de Sapucai Sambodrome on April 24, 2022 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.Image source, Getty Images
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Some dressed in white robes, the colour worn by followers of the Candomblé and Umbanda faiths

“We conceived our parade as a defence of our beliefs against religious racism and the demonisation of Exú,” Grande Rio’s creative director said.

Members of the Grande Rio samba school perform during a carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, early 24 April 2022.Image source, EPA
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Their costumes were adorned with feathers and masks
A member of the Grande Rio samba school performs during a carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, early 24 April 2022.Image source, EPA
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Beads also featured prominently

The parade was cancelled last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic and this year’s event should have taken place during the carnival in February.

But it was delayed due to the impact of a new variant of the coronavirus that spread across Brazil earlier this year.

A reveller from Grande Rio samba school performs during the second night of the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April 23, 2022Image source, Reuters
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Grande Rio had been narrowly defeated in 2020

Twelve samba schools, representing different communities of the city, compete every year at the Rio’s Sambadrome parade ground for the top prize.

A dancer poses from the Grande Rio school poses at the Sapucai Sambodrome on April 24, 2022 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.Image source, Getty Images
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It is the first champion’s title for Grande Rio

Grande Rio had come close to clinching the title in 2020, when it was awarded the same number of points as the Viradouro samba school, but was beaten by the latter in the tie-breaker.

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