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In pictures: Rio celebrates Mardi Gras

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-03-04

Brazil's Carnival of samba, in which Rio de Janeiro's top dance schools compete in huge parades, will continue overnight on Tuesday, finishing just in time for Lent to begin on Wednesday.

"Samba is the root that binds Brazilian culture,'' said Nanny Kammura, a 35-year-old kindergarten teacher and mother who transforms into a 'passista'' samba dance specialist for the Mocidade school when the big party rolls around each year.

"We're here honoring that culture, our roots. It's ours, it's Brazilian,'' she said, just before her school began its parade, during which she wore an enormous green feather headdress and minuscule sequined silvertop and bikini bottom. "Yes, it's a party. But it's also us honouring our history and ensuring that samba will never die.''

Zelma Freitas, a 48-year-old office secretary, sat in the front row of the cheap seats section at the Sambadrome, the 700-metre-long (nearly half mile) avenue lined with grandstands.

"It's pure joy, mostly for those of us from humble backgrounds, who take pride in and root for our favorite (samba) schools,'' she said as the municipal band struck up Rio's beloved anthem song, 'Cidade Maravilhosa,' or Marvelous City, to open the parade.

"Perhaps it's inexplicable to outsiders, but this means so much to the poor, who for the rest of the year have to face our daily reality. Today, I leave that behind and embrace this fantasy.''

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

Date created : 2014-03-04

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