BY RAFAEL LAM - Special for Granma International

IT’s carnival time again in Havana, a mass enjoyment. This year, activities took place in the capital from August 3-12, dedicated to the 45th anniversary of the Union of Communist Youth (UJC) and Latin American integration. The atmosphere was a festive one, with photo competitions, tributes, special nights, anniversary celebrations for traditional comparsas (large groups of dancers who accompany musicians playing a conga rhythm and traveling through the streets), giant puppets, and conga nights.

The traditionally anticipated comparsas include El Alacrán, La Boyera, Componedores de batea, La jardinera, La Sultana, La Giraldilla, Jóvenes del Este, Caballeros del ritmo, Danza del León (Barrio Chino), La Mazucamba, Los Guaracheros de Regla, and the ENA, featuring the energy of the youth and support of performing arts and circus schools. This year, they were joined by the Cuban Television Dance Company and dancers from the Tropicana, Parisién and Capri nightclubs.

The people have always loved joining in the parades and processions of carnival time, since the days of King Felipe II. The royal celebrations gave way to nighttime processions, when the king and his court would ride through the streets of the capital to the light of torches that reflected the gold and silver of their sumptuous costumes. The Corpus Christi, with its famous masks, was the most popular religious celebration and was held in every Spanish city, where it was seen as the most attractive among the masses.

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