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POPULAR FEASTS

In almost all the cities of Bahia fairs are held in favour of the saint of the city and also to raise funds for the church. During these village fairs, on the main square or near the church, little stands are set up where typical food and drinks from the region is sold.

A procession is kept to praise the saint and there is always a band to ensure the musical part. In some of these cities those village fairs have transformed themselves into grand popular festivals.

Salvador is perhaps the city with the largest number of churches in the world and as a result, it has possibly the largest number of popular feasts.

  • Everything starts on 8th of December with the festival of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia), protectress of the city, which takes place in the district Comércio in the Lower City

  • On January 1st we have the maritime procession of Our Lord Kind Jesus of the Navigators (Nosso Senhor Bom Jesus dos Navegantes), where hundreds of small boats of all types cross the Bay of All Saints to bring the saint's statue from the church of Conceição da Praia to the chapel in Boa Viagem.

  • On the 6th of January the Feast of the Kings is celebrated in Lapinha, one of the oldest districts of Salvador. On this festival the participants, who carry cloths from colourful and shining textile, divide themselves in two groups, the "ranchos" and the "ternos". The first is a playful and liberal group, whereas the "ternos" are more serious, composed by shepherds who portray characters from Christmas.

  • On second Thursday of January it is the turn to Senhor do Bonfim, Jesus for Catholic the church and Oxalá for the Candomblé, to be honoured with a large mass procession, called "lavagem do Bonfim", leaving from the church of Conceição da Praia, in the district of the port, and proceeding till the church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim, on the peninsula of Itapagipe. The most important part of the procession is formed by black women who, in the traditional dressing of the Bahianas, carry vases with flowers and perfumed water (with "alfazema" or lavender). They are accompanied by cavaliers and decorated chariots and by a large mass of people of all ages, races and nationalities that dress mostly white clothes. When they arrive at the “Colina Sagrada” (Sacred Hill) where the church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim is situated, the Bahianas sprinkle the perfumed water on the staircase at the entrance of the church and on the heads of the believers and wash the piazza in a ritual of belief and faith.

  • On the 2th of February the followers of the Candomblé venerate Yemanjá, the goddess of the sea, and use the occasion to bring her offerings and make wishes. The feast has place in the neighbourhood of Rio Vermelho, near to beach from where the boats with the offerings leave.

  • After all this, as if all this feasts were not yet enough, comes the most important feast, the big climax which is the carnival, a delirium, the biggest popular street feast of the world. It lasts officially five days and attracts large masses from all over Brazil and the world. The participants of the carnival, here called "foliões", dance and jump behind the "Trio Elétricos" (big trucks full of loudspeakers around and a stage on top where a band plays music), the Afro and Afoxé-groups as "pipoca" (pop-corn) free and loose or “protected” inside the organised carnival groups. Today we have three "circuits" (routes drawn on the city map) along which carnival is organised and can be appreciated: the traditional circuit that goes from Campo Grande to Castro Alves Square and back, the alternative circuit that goes from Barra to Ondina and the nostalgic circuit in the Historical Centre where