Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Babau festival is an annual festival that is held in Rivesaltes. It is based on a local legend that dates back to the 12th century and thus sets back the clock to medieval times. It revives an ancient account of “the Babau”, a monster, if not a dragon, which breached the defences of the town and devoured several infants.
At 11 o’clock in the morning, during the month of August, the Babau makes his first appearance in the streets of Rivesaltes, escorted by the giant Galdric Trencavent and his wife Radegonda, following by young men on horse, as well as displays representing a catapult and a forge. As time goes by, various other attractions, ranging from jugglers to marching bands, join the procession, and the spectacle grows.
As evening comes, the music gets louder, as if to dampen the cries of the monster which is nearing the end of its existence. He will soon be sacrificed in a fire display, as soon as the night begins to fall.

The legend

Everyone in the Roussillon has heard of the Babau (pronounced Babaou). The monster is often used to create panic – either real or more often for entertainment value – in small children. And it is said that the monster manifested itself in Rivesaltes a long time ago, though more than this high level overview is seldom known amongst the population at large.

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