Marujada procession mixes historical traditions

The sun edges into the sky, signaling to tens of thousands in the streets of this small city in northern Brazil that it's time to start walking toward the Church of St. Benedict.

Started in 1798, the Marujada religious celebration mixes indigenous, African and Portuguese traditions. It arose when black slaves persuaded their masters to let them form a brotherhood to pay homage to St. Benedict.

For the procession, women wear blue skirts and white shirts and don white circular hats streaming colorful ribbons. Men wear white pants and blue shirts.

Some people carry images of the baby Jesus, others hold pictures of St. Benedict.

During the latest procession, on Christmas Day, 62-year-old Jose Batista walked slowly with a group of men of all ages.

"It's a form of showing appreciation and making good on your promises for all the miracles one receives," Batista said.

Arriving at the church, participants spend the day dancing Lundu, a couple's dance that originated in Angola and involves spinning in circles.

The next day, people dress in red, a color also seen in street decorations, as the city begins a day of partying.

Clara Padilha Gomes, 77, said she participates to give thanks for her son.

"As long as I'm alive, I will be devoted," she said. "A person has to have faith."


This Dec. 19, 2016 photo shows Clara Padilha Gomes preparing spiritually for the Marujada religious celebration, in honor of St. Benedict, at her home in the fishing town of Braganca, Brazil. Gomes, 77, said she participates to give thanks for her son. "As long as I'm alive, I will be devoted," she said. "A person has to have faith." (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

This Dec. 26, 2016 photo shows a procession in honor of St. Benedict filling a street in the fishing town of Braganca, Brazil during Marujada religious celebrations. Started in 1798, the event mixes indigenous, African and Portuguese traditions. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

This Dec. 26, 2016 photo shows captain Jose Batista launching a firecracker during Marujada religious celebrations in honor of St. Benedict in the fishing town of Braganca, Brazil. The tradition started when black slaves persuaded their masters to let them form a brotherhood to pay homage to St. Benedict. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

This Dec. 25, 2016 photo shows a woman holding red ribbons for the champion of the Cavalhada horse riding event during the Marujada religious celebration in honor of St. Benedict in the fishing town of Braganca, Brazil. Galloping horsemen compete to place a small stick through a small ring in the air. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

This Dec. 25, 2016 photo shows women in procession outside Saint Benedict Church during Marujada religious celebrations in honor of the Catholic Saint in the fishing town of Braganca, Brazil. For the procession, women wear blue skirts and white shirts and don white circular feathered, hats streaming colorful ribbons. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

This Dec. 26, 2016 photo shows a girl attending Marujada religious celebrations in honor of St. Benedict in the fishing town of Braganca, Brazil. On this day of the days-long tradition, people dress in red, a color also seen in street decorations, as the city begins a day of partying. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

This Dec. 25, 2016 photo shows Joao Gomes, 64, center, with his family outside their home during Marujada celebrations in honor of St. Benedict in the fishing town of Braganca, Brazil. The tradition began in 1798 when black slaves persuaded their masters to let them form a brotherhood to pay homage to St. Benedict. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

This Dec. 26, 2016 photo shows women performing the Retumbao dance during Marujada religious celebrations in honor of St. Benedict in the fishing town of Braganca, Brazil. Locals say the annual celebration, which started in 1798, is a way to show appreciation and make good on promises for miracles received. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

This Dec. 23, 2016 photo shows Vania Ramos and her daughter Ana Beatris standing before an altar inside their home as they prepare for Marujada religious celebrations in honor of St. Benedict in the fishing town of Braganca, Brazil. The annual celebration arose when black slaves persuaded their masters to let them pay homage to St. Benedict. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

This Dec. 25, 2016 photo shows a cowboy who successfully placed a stick through a small ring during the Cavalhada event, part of Marujada religious celebrations in honor of St. Benedict in the fishing town of Braganca, Brazil. Started in 1798, the "Marujada" religious celebration mixes indigenous, African and Portuguese traditions. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

This Dec. 18, 2016 photo shows women wearing feathered hats with colorful ribbons performing the Retumbao dance during Marujada religious celebrations in honor of St. Benedict in the fishing town of Braganca, Brazil. Arriving at the church, some participants spend the day dancing Lundu, a couple's dance that originated in Angola and involves spinning in circles. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

This Dec. 20, 2016 photo shows a family arriving on the Caete River to attend Marujada religious celebrations in honor of St. Benedict in the fishing town of Braganca, Brazil. Locals say the annual celebration, which started in 1798, is a way to show appreciation and make good on promises for miracles received. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

This Dec. 25, 2016 photo shows young cowboys competing in the Cavalhada, using small sticks and rings, during Marujada religious celebrations in honor of St. Benedict in the fishing town of Braganca, Brazil. Started in 1798, the "Marujada" religious celebration mixes indigenous, African and Portuguese traditions. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

This Dec. 25, 2016 photo shows a girl in costume taking a selfie at the port in the fishing town Braganca, Para state, Brazil. This small city in northern Brazil pays tribute to St. Benedict with dance, horse competition and colorful costume. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

This Dec. 26, 2016 photo shows men carrying a statue of Saint Benedict holding a baby Jesus during Marujada religious celebrations in the fishing town Braganca, Brazil. The annual celebration arose when black slaves persuaded their masters to let them form a brotherhood to pay homage to St. Benedict. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

This Dec. 19, 2016 photo shows Sabrina Correia Aviz holding a statuette of St. Benedict inside her home, before the start of Marujada religious celebrations in the fishing town of Braganca, Brazil. Started in 1798, the Marujada religious celebration mixes indigenous, African and Portuguese traditions. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

This Dec. 26, 2016 photo shows women at the port wearing feathered hats with multi-colored ribbons before the start of a procession honoring Saint Benedict during Marujada religious celebrations in the fishing town of Braganca, Brazil. Locals say the annual celebration, which started in 1798, is a way to show appreciation and make good on promises for miracles received. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)


Text from the AP news story,  AP PHOTOS: Marujada procession mixes historical traditions, by Eraldo Peres.

Photos by Eraldo Peres

Follow AP photographers on Twitter

See these photos on APImages

Written content on this site is not created by the editorial department of AP, unless otherwise noted.