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2nd Thursday of the year and the atmosphere 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 Bahian women sprinkle on the faithful.

A lively crowd. Lots of happiness in the air.

The people who walked concentrated, spread out when they reach the Basilica square, which is too small to accommodate so many people.

Street food, shooting, singing, prayers, hugs, lots of beer. The entire neighborhood breathes the joy of the Senhor do Bonfim festival.

Carnival will soon arrive.



1 million people gathered in front of the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia. Richly decorated baianas. Lots of them.

A huge crowd. Almost everyone dressed in white. All prepared for the 7 km walk that will take them to the Basilica of Senhor do Bonfim.

It is not a public holiday in Salvador, but it is common for people to take the day off. That's why it's possible to have so many people gathered for this event that is a mixture of reverence for Senhor do Bonfim and the inauguration of the Carnival festivities.

The celebration, in fact, reproduces and recalls Oxalá's journey to the kingdom of Oyó and the long journey through the streets of the city brings some challenges similar to those that Oxalá lived in his saga.

In Brazilian religious syncretism, Oxalá and Senhor do Bonfim are the same person. Celebrating one is honoring the other.

The avenues that border the sea seem narrow, the crowd fills every available space. The group takes about 4 hours to complete the trek. They walk slowly to keep the group together, to keep the party going. A large human mass. Jesus goes ahead, opening the way.

Various types of prayers and various profane songs are heard. You see people focused on the act of devotion, as well as others who are there more for the celebration with their friends.

The arrival at the Basilica is marked by the washing of the Church's stairs and with the blessings and baths given by the fathers and mothers of saints to all those who wish to do so.

The physical contact between people and their with the things that represent the Saint, the Orixá and faith in general (such as the colored ribbons that everyone wants to tie to the Church's railing) are an important part of acts of devotion.

Brazilian religious syncretism is more than evidently present here: a beautiful communion of beliefs, a celebration of respect for various forms of reverence.

PHOTOS Washing of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim


The Legend “Water of Oxalá”

One day, Oxalá decided to leave his kingdom and visit the kingdom of Xangô, King of Oyó.  


Before heading to Oyó, Oxalá consulted his babalawo in order to know how the journey would be. The babalawo told him that he could go, but that before leaving, he should make an offering to Exú, so that everything went well on his trip. In addition, he recommended that he bring three changes of white clothes, coastal lime and soap.  The soothsayer also advised him to accept and do whatever was asked of him on the way and not complain about anything, whatever happened and said that this would be the only way to not lose his life.


Oxalá ignored the oracle's advice regarding the offering to Exú and left alone to start the journey.

Right at the beginning of his journey, walking through the woods, he encountered a person who was trying to lift a vat of palm oil and asked him for help. Oxalá promptly helped him. Only that person, in fact, was Exú who, in disguise, decided to play some pranks on Oxalá for not having made the offering before starting the trip. Purposely, he poured the palm over Oxalá and left.


Oxalá bathed in the river, changed his clothes and continued on his journey.




Quem vive as festas tem sempre

umas experiências curiosas...


Salvador (BA)

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