A Pandemic Tragedy on Brazil’s Lago Verde

“Alter do Chão has a historical past of being a matriarchal village,” Neca explains. “Should you did a survey right here, you’d see that 70 % of households are run by girls.” Dona Lusia by no means married. “She by no means let herself be subjugated by a person,” her daughter says. “She raised us all on her personal.”

Dona Lusia occupied a place of significance when it got here to communal ceremonies, cooking, rituals, craftwork, and storytelling. Neca says her mom was each festive and a fighter. Rituals are a part of the extraordinary life of those folks, and the battle to maintain their rituals from vanishing is a battle for their very own distinctive lifestyle.

For Dona Lusia, the hassle to save lots of her group’s traditions was additionally a manner of reclaiming the lifetime of her childhood. When she was 10, the celebration of Sairé, the Borari’s yearly competition, was banned by the Catholic Church. “It wasn’t till 1960 that individuals began getting collectively and holding the Sairé ceremony once more,” Neca says. “It was extra about dances and rituals than prayer. There have been possibly 20 folks.” As one of many “comandos”—as her daughter places it—Dona Lusia was instrumental within the effort to reclaim Sairé. “Our Indigenous rituals, our Amazonian carimbó dance. All of the dances that we now have right here. She was all for prayer, however she was largely involved with the query of dancing. She all the time supported it. She danced. And she or he loved it.”

Neca’s conversations with her mom had been crammed with tales of the traditional occasions. The one Dona Lusia most loved telling was the parable of the Lago Verde do Muiraquitã, the group’s lake, which is central to the legendary and each day lifetime of the Borari. As if in tribute to her mom, Neca Borari has assumed the function of storyteller, and after I talked to her on the finish of March 2020, just a few days after Dona Lusia’s dying, she advised me the parable of the inexperienced lake:

The Borari folks of Alter do Chão have the moon as our middleman with Tupã, the creator. We might not have counted 9 months to offer delivery; we might have counted 9 moons. If that you must minimize some straw to thatch the roof of your own home, you possibly can’t do it below the moonlight. We solely plant when the moon is powerful. The fish are stronger below a full moon.

A few years in the past, when our ancestors lived right here, a younger Indian girl went lacking from the village. So the folks bought collectively, the entire Borari folks, to ask the moon to point out them the place the Indian lady was. And in the course of the ritual, the moon answered them, saying, Sure, she would present them. She would give the lady again.

They went to the lake, and that afternoon, an amazing storm started to construct. They usually noticed a tree stand up from the center of the lake, bearing colourful fruits that shone like lights. The tree moved, floating, alongside the river. After making a loop, it returned to the spot the place it had begun. So the folks went to see what was to be discovered.

These vivid fruits had been remodeled. That they had change into inexperienced frogs, which collectively shaped a big carpet stretching throughout the lake. Thus the identify Lago Verde dos Muiraquitãs. The Indian lady’s identify was Naiá, and the tree was named Zineira, the tree of frogs.

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