Thursday, January 3, 2008

Keeping the Goddess in New Year's Eve

New Year's biggest bash January 01 2008 at 08:55AM Rio De Janeiro - More than 4 million people celebrated the start of 2008 in Rio de Janeiro with marathon parties on the beach. Half of them assembled on Copacabana beach, media reports said early on Tuesday, citing police estimates. A 23-minute fireworks display lit up the coast after midnight in a metropolis known as the Cidade Maravilhosa (or Marvelous City). Masses of people turned out despite nighttime temperatures up to 35 degrees, dancing on the sand before stages and filling promenades that had been blocked to traffic. By 3am (05.00 GMT), tens of thousands of revellers remained on the 2-kilometre-long Avenida Atlantica on the famous Copacabana beach and in the adjacent neighbourhood of Ipanema. Many slept off the festivities on the beach as well. More than 10 000 police officers were deployed to provide security, but the evening proceeded with no remarkable incidents except for a ricocheting bullet that injured a 63-year-old woman, media reports said. In honour of the goddess Yemanja, most people were clothed all in white and threw flowers into the sea so that the ocean goddess of the African-Brazilian Umbanda cult would fulfil their New Year's wishes. Others presented her with offerings of jewels, sparkling wine and expensive clothing on tiny wooden boats. Rio celebrated the New Year with a record number of visitors. More than 600 000 foreign and domestic tourists filled up 98 percent of the city's hotel rooms, the tourism office said. City leaders call Rio's celebration, which cost 10 million reals ($5,7-million), "the biggest party in the world", but millions of Brazilians also celebrate in their country's financial capital, Sao Paulo, where more than 2 million congregated alone at the music shows on the Avenida Paulista. - Sapa-dpa

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