2nd Thursday of the year and the weather is already Carnival.
It's 9 o'clock in the morning. The day is cloudy. Still, the heat is intense and promises a day of great fun and devotion.
Necklaces, bracelets, beads, amulets, ribbons, flowers. The intense perfume of the scented water that the baianas sprinkle on the faithful.
An excited crowd.
Lots of happiness in the air.
The people who concentrated walked the whole path, spreads when arriving at the square of the Basilica that is too small to accommodate so many people.
Street food, shooting, singers, prayers, hugs, lots of beer. The whole neighborhood breathes the joy of the feast of Senhor do Bonfim. Soon the Carnival will arrive.
Essay "Our Lord of Bonfim's Wash"
1 million people gathered in front of the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia. Richly decorated Baianas. Many.
A huge crowd. Almost all dressed in white. All prepared for the 7 km walk that will take you to the Basilica of Senhor do Bonfim.
It is not a holiday in Salvador, but it is common for people to take the day off. So it is possible to have so many people gathered for this event that is a mix of reverence to the Lord of Bonfim and inauguration of the carnival festivities.
The party, in fact, reproduces and recalls the journey of Oxalá to the kingdom of Oyó and the long path traveled through the streets of the city brings some challenges similar to those that Oxalá lived in his saga.
In the Brazilian religious syncretism, Oxalá and Senhor do Bonfim are the same person. To celebrate one is to honor the other.
The avenues that border the sea seem narrow, the crowd fills every available space. It takes about 4 hours to finish the walk. They walk slowly to keep the group together, to keep the party alive. A great human mass. Jesus leads the way.
There are various types of prayer and various profane songs. People are focused on the act of devotion, as well as others who are there for the celebration with their friends.
The arrival at the Basilica is marked by the washing of the steps of the Church and with the blessings and baths given by fathers and mothers of saints in all those who so desire.
The physical contact between people and theirs with the things that represent the Saint, the Orixá and the faith in general (like the colored ribbons that everyone wants to tie in the Church's gradient) are an important part of acts of devotion.
Brazilian religious syncretism is present here in a more than evident way: a beautiful communion of beliefs, a feast of respect for various forms of reverence.