Rio Carnival parade: Grande Rio Samba School crowned champion
Grande Rio Samba School was the champion of Rio de Janeiro Carnival parade this year. The carnival, which was organised for the first time since the pandemic, witnessed a disputed parade competition. Grande Rio Samba School's victory in the competition officially closed Brazil's festivities. The school has won top prize in the competition for the first time. For four consecutive years in the past, the school has only reached second place.
During the Rio parade, the schools are judged across several categories. Among them are their carnival floats. Grande Rio Samba School's float was dedicated to the deity Exu, a kind of messenger bridging the gap between the human and the divine. The design, technical functioning, costumes, drum section, theme, lyrics and overall execution is also closed observed. Judges observe how a school has used the time limit and how they prevent open spaces between sections of the parade.
This year's event was pushed back from its traditional date in February to April due to an increase in COVID-19 cases as the Omicron variant spread through the country.
Grande Rio Samba School is from the impoverished neighbourhood of Duque de Caxias.
"We conceived our parade as a defense of our beliefs against religious racism and the demonization of Exu," said the school's creative director, Leonardo Bora.
It was a politically charged choice of theme in a Brazil where Afro-Brazilian faiths such as Candomble and Umbanda have been widely demonized by the country's powerful Evangelical Christian movement, which is closely allied with far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
Twelve samba schools took part in the all-night contest Friday and Saturday, which had the city's dedicated carnival parade venue, the "Sambadrome," throbbing to the beat as a glittering, sequin-studded sea of dancers, drummers and floats flooded the avenue.