Usina da Alegria Planetária

“Usina da Alegria Planetária” is a community of Brazilian artists that opted to live together in the quiet countryside city of Cotia, far away from the chaos of stressful and gray urban environment of São Paulo, where most of them originally come from.

[dropcap type=”2″]T[/dropcap]hey share home made meals, work together, recycle, collaborate maintaining everyone’s houses in good conditions (the surrounding area is pretty unattended by the government, so lack of water and electricity are regular problems), they also often get together to help each other in both personal and professional issues, but are mainly connected by their religion: Umbanda – “a syncretic religion that blends African traditions with Roman Catholicism, Spiritism, and Indigenous American beliefs”.

The principal idea in Umbanda, is “the existence of deities called Orixás, most of them syncretized with Catholic saints that act as divine energy and forces of nature; spirits of deceased people that counsel and guide practitioners through troubles in the material world; psychics, or mediums, who have a natural ability that can be perfected to bring messages from the spiritual world of Orixás and the guiding spirits; reincarnation and spiritual evolution through many material lives (karmic law) and the practice of charity and social fraternity.”, so, through their religious mentor and leader of the community, Kabila Aruanda, they guide their often private ceremonies, dressing up with references to the deities they want to connect, with beautiful costumes and masks they sewed themselves, for a theatrical performance accompanied by the sound of drums, screams, and rhythmical singing.  Some of the participants embody certain deities that are believed to then posses their bodies, temporarily erasing all characteristics of that person: their voices, habits, thoughts, the way they act, walk, sing and obviously the advices they can give to others are entirely different – reason why they are consulted, as they are considered wiser than humans, and can also access afterlife sources. The rituals usually end in exhaustion from the participants, as it’s all said to be too intense, and is indeed, a very euphoric act, involving a lot of emotions, music, strong alcohol and tobacco.

The photographer has joined them in three different visits, during 2014, 2015 and 2016, as there are more visits planned in the future, this is an ongoing series. Here is a glimpse of some of their rituals mixed with their daily routine.

About the author:
Andrea Lavezzaro is a brazilian female photographer, based in Berlin. She works with both analog and digital photography since 2005.

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