7 things you’ll see at the Lavagem do Bonfim

The Lavagem do Bonfim,  Salvador’s second-biggest street party after Carnaval, consists of an 8-kilometer procession through the lower city, up to Bonfim Church. Bahian women bring flowers and wash the steps of the church in honor of Jesus (if you’re Catholic) or Oxalá (if you’re of the candomblé persuasion).

Here are seven things you’ll see along the way:

1. People dressed in white

The white is either because it’s Oxala’s color… or else because it’s so darn hot!

2. Baianas in traditional dress with flowers

3. Big-ass political balloons

I counted at least eight different political parties
If you’re lucky, you’ll even see some real-life politicians

4. Dozens of random bands

Playing exuberant/chaotic music, and one band is often right behind another, thus resulting in a giant mess of SOUND
It wouldn’t be a party without some percussion!

5. People you know

I’m always amazed at the fact that somehow, over an eight-kilometer stretch with tens of thousands of people, I always manage to run into friends. Over the course of the parade, we ran into no less than six people we knew, including Christian’s parents and fellow Brazil blogger markuza. But we didn’t take any pictures  🙁

6. Random stuff

A sustainable automobile?
WHY is there a donkey head on top of this car? I’ll never know.

7. Bonfim Church

Careful not to get your pocket picked while listening to the sermon…

Jesus is watching you

This is the second time I’ve walked the procession, and I’m not really crazy about it. The Bahia tourism brochures describe the Lavagem do Bonfim all romantically as “a blend of the sacred and the secular” – but what that really means is that the party starts off with some religious ritual and then turns into drunken debauchery and violence. It’s pretty much the same as all the other street parties, and I’m not a huge fan of navigating through crowds of sweaty people while listening to crappy music and trying to avoid getting beer spilled on me. Call me a stick in the mud if you want 🙂

  • So cool! I want to go! (Maybe just once.)
    Brazil is great for random stuff, right? In Sao Paulo, it seems to be random dinosaurs.

    • Shayna

      Dinosaurs?! Do tell!

  • The ‘inteligentsia’ of the communist party parading around a religious event in search of support. Wow. Now that is even below the average politician.

  • Ah, I was thinking it looked kind of fun, but drunken idiots fighting is no fun at all. Is that a common thing in Salvador? I’m happy to say I have seen very few fights in Brazil (though maybe I just go to non-fighty places…)

    • Shayna

      I haven’t seen any personally – but that’s probably because I tend not to stay at the street parties long enough! As soon as we got home from the Lavagem, there was a report on TV Bahia about the police arresting some guys for fighting in the square in front of the church. Que vergonha! Jesus is disappointed :-p

      Carnaval is even worse. There are guys who lift weights the whole summer so that they can get “pumped” for Carnaval, and then go out and start fights to show how manly they are. Couple years ago, one of my friends was winding his way through the crowd, girlfriend in tow, and some guy just looked at him, didn’t like his face, and punched him in the mouth.