Tuesday, 8 November 2016

BRAZIL: Brazilians Preserve Their African Culture Roots

One of the main characteristics of Brazilian is the power to preserve their roots. In the way they dress, talk, dance and often, pray. It was also through religion that the country saved its most precious possession: their origins.

One of the greatest examples of this is in Bahia. The State capital, Salvador, is known as the Terra de Todos os Santos (Land of All Saints). Catholicism, brought by the Portuguese, is very present in the 365 churches spread throughout the city, one for every day of the year.

In the Candomble terraces, afro-religion, rituals and beliefs are responsible in preserving the culture coming from Africa.

You will notice that the music, dance, architecture, and mostly everything tell a bit of history and of its heritage. The famous Bahian cuisine, that you cannot miss, was born, too, out of the improvised dishes made by the slaves. The sauce is unique and the satisfaction is guaranteed for all audiences.

In the midst of the festive atmosphere that the city offers throughout the year, Salvador also features a rich – and beautiful – architectural heritage. In Salvador, you will find monuments, ancient mansions and churches with many lovely details that will make you lose yourself in front of so much beauty.

In addition to the natural attractions such as beautiful beaches, turquoise sea, tasty fruits and tropical heat, Bahia still offers many other attractions that won’t let you stand still – literally, since the city is so musically expressive that it works like an invitation to go out and see all its charms.

Get ready to go up and down slopes in the heart of the city, in the Pelourinho, the historic center of Salvador. And get ready to try one, two, three acarajés, a cake made from fried beans and served with many spices, made just in time by one of the countless baianas that charm the streets with their huge white dresses and colorful necklaces – trust me, you’ll want to take lots of pictures to keep the memory alive.

By the way, be sure to enter the shops that sell traditional handicrafts, you won’t regret it and still be able to take a little souvenir with you.

If you like music, prepare your heart because it will beat to the rhythms of the many percussion bands that sing in the city: with concerts, performances by local bands and even praying to the sound of drums.

A church with an infinite amount of ribbons that color the background, leaving the environment typically baiano. This is a location you need to visit! This is the front of the Nosso Senhor do Bonfim Church, Bahia’s most popular church.

Covered with the famous Senhor do Bonfim ribbons, symbols of faith, the church gates will give you the welcome you deserve, with lots of colour and joy.

Enjoy the atmosphere and join in the ribbon tradition: take a ribbons of your favorite color, tie it around your wrist and make three nots. For each not, make a wish. You should not remove the ribbon until it breaks naturally, this means that your wishes were granted.

Be sure to also observe the beautiful architecture of the Church, in Rococó style, covered in 19th century Portuguese tiles. On the altar, an image of Christ brought from Portugal in the 18 century which is very impressive.

This church is also the scene of some of the most famous celebrations in Salvador, such as the Lavagem das Escadas de Bonfim (Washing the Bonfim Steps. The ritual begins when thousands of people gather for a walk of about 8 km from the Conceição Church to the Nosso Senhor do Bonfim Church, following the traditional baianas that carry vases with scented water. Behind them, comes one of the most traditional blocks of Bahia: Filhos de Gandhy.

With more than 10 thousand members, formed only by men dressed in white and blue sheets and towels, symbolizing the Indian dress and the orishas Ogun and Oxalufon, the Filhos de Gandhy touch everyone with its energy and sensational drumming.

Arriving at the Church stairs, the baianas water the steps with the scented water and put flowers on them, while everyone sing the Senhor do Bonfim anthem. Dress yourself in white and, if you get a chance, be sure to participate – this is an exciting spectacle to see and feel.

The Mercado Modelo is one of the best places to hang out and see the art of Bahia. Located at the end of Santa Tereza Street, in the historical center of Salvador, on the edge of the Baia de Todos os Santos, it is one of the most beautiful spots of the city.

Full of shops with colorful clothes and typical handicrafts, the market offers a variety of products to suit all audiences. While strolling between one shop and another, enjoy a cocada, a typically baiano sweet, made from grated coconut and sugar syrup that melts gently in your mouth.

The market is also surrounded by stories. Its underground tunnels were constructed to store wines and other goods that needed moisture, but according to popular legend, it was in the basement that new coming slaves were received.

During your tour you will also have the opportunity to meet one of the many capoeira circles, a mix of fighting and dancing, that cheer the market corridors. To the sound of the berimbau, rope instrument of Angolan origin, and to the sound of the sea, in the background, sit down and enjoy one of the best gifts that Bahia can give you: joy.