Círio de Nazaré

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••• SIDNEY OLIVEIRA/AG.PARÁ

Círio de Nazaré, one of the largest celebrations in Brazil and in the world, has received UNESCO's certificate of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In 2004, the festivities had been listed as Immaterial Heritage by IPHAN - Brazil's Institute for National Historical and Artistic Heritage.

About two million faithful join the procession at the core of the festivities which take place in Belém, the capital of the northern state of Pará, around the second Sunday of October and honors the Virgin of Nazareth.

On certain years the Círio, as it is known for short, takes place on the same day as the festivities in honor of Our Lady of Aparecida, in São Paulo.

The procession in Belém attracts pilgrims who carry ex-votos - symbols of parts of the body and other icons which represent divine healing and intercessions.

Devotees follow the image of Our Lady of Nazareth for about six hours along the 3.6 kilometers from Belém Cathedral to the Nazaré Basilica, where it is displayed for two weeks. The small image of the Virgin of Nazareth at the heart of Círio events was found in 1700 where the Basilica is today and soon became associated with miracles.

A great number of people want to hold on to the rope which is attached to the berlinda, or stand which carries the image of Our Lady of Nazareth. The heightened emotions and the heat contribute to cases of fainting, hypertension, and dehydration. The crowding along the rope may lead to injuries; despite repeated alerts from the authorities, some of the faithful bring sharp objects with which to cut off pieces of rope to take away as talismans.

A deep cut was one of eight emergencies requiring transfers to hospitals during the 2014 procession - a low incidence of serious injuries, according to local health authorities, out of 270 incidents taken care of at seven mobile ER units placed along the way.

Other Círio de Nazaré Events

Hundreds of boats participate in a well-known river procession - Romaria Fluvial on the Saturday before the street procession.

Several other events are involved in the Círio.

One of the events is a choir performance in the street. Organized by the Pará Arts Institute (Instituto de Artes do Pará  - IAP), the Grand Coral joins professional and amateur singers, including seniros, who practice for about two months for a concert on Avenida Presidente Vargas.