Festa da Luz

Festa da Luz (Festival of Light)

Two weeks beginning the second Sunday in October
The two-week Festival of Light held every year in BelÉm, Pará State, Brazil, honors Our Lady of Nazareth. Her image is carried through the streets to the cathedral on Saturday night in a berlinda or glass enclosure set upon wheels. But it is the Sunday morning procession that is the most important. Church and civic leaders accompany the image as it again rolls through the streets in the berlinda. Behind comes the "Miracle Car"—a heavy platform inscribed with images of the miracles performed by the Virgin—carried on the shoulders of strong men who perform this service as a form of penance. Adults and children of all ages and circumstances follow, many dressed in hair shirts, walking in bare feet, or carrying a heavy load as a form of penance.
The festival takes its name from the lights that decorate the square in front of the church and that outline the building itself. There are booths selling a wide variety of goods and instrumental groups supply continuous music. The pilgrimage that accompanies the Festival of Light dates back to the year 1700 and often draws as many as 100,000 participants.
CONTACTS:
Brazilian Embassy
3006 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-238-2700; fax: 202-238-2827
www.brasilemb.org
SOURCES:
FiestaTime-1965, p. 156