Monday, 29 August 2016

Santo Aleixo da Restauração village - The Tomina Festivities - the brass band from the village of Amareleja and the "festeiros" - Alentejo - The 27th of August 2016

I got up fairly early and in spite of the extreme heat got ready to acknowledge the importance of the Tomina festivities and the role it all plays in the village of Santo Aleixo da Restauração.

According to historical records the festivities honouring Nossa Senhora das Necessidades, which are held in the last week of every August and comprise quite a few sequencial ceremonies, date back to 1668 and are intimately connected to the Convent of Tomina.

Its origins are said to have been initiated by the people of Santo Aleixo da Restauração following an enormous fire that could have easily destroyed their cornfields  but which just burned out the second-growth hay.

From 1688 on the religious festivities which used to atract several pilgrims from all over Alentejo, as well as from several Spanish neighbouring villages are said to have lasted till the religious orders were extinct in 1834 and the Convent of Tomina abandoned.

The existing religious figures including Nossa Senhora das Necessidades were then brought from the old Convent into the Church of Santo Aleixo and the festivities have since then been carried out following the ancient traditions as much as possible, with the Churchyard of Santo Aleixo da Restauração being at the heart of the eventful occasion.

Different yearly assigned "Festeiros" are in charge of organising the festivities, which include paying for the band, the guest artists and the fire work display amongst other things, therefore the band (this year from the Amareleja village) goes around the whole village of Santo Aleixo da Restauração stopping by everyone of the festeiros' so as to play in their honour, once it is known there is a lot of work involved and it takes a lot of stamina to organise such an event.

What we did in the morning was precisely to follow the steps of  the brass band of a neighbouring village as it  marched towards the various festeiros'. We managed to reach them as they had crossed the little river that separates the lower and the higher boroughs and then followed them back down and into the "heart" of the village to one of the festeiros'  located right in front of where I was staying at.

It did remind me of when I was young and "marched" along the military brass band musicians as they made their way to the barracks crossing the various city's streets. 

(To be continued)

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