Bahia is vibrant and probably one of the best places to have a powerful experience of Brazil. The ocean breeze, the sound of drums suddenly coming from just any street of the old Pelourinho neighbourhood, mixed with hot spices from one of the most extraordinaries cuisines, are a few of Bahia’s strongest virtues.
However, having the longest coastline of all states, the beaches are definitely responsible for setting most of the energy and mood of this unique region, making the salty waters from the sea one of the main elements capable to unite population, visitors, workers and believers.
Due to the massive slave trade that dragged so many black people out of their home countries and into Brazil between the 16th and 19th century, the city of Salvador, capital of Bahia, has the largest black population outside of Africa. They brought along a lot of their culture. The African-born religion Yoruba was then transformed in a syncretism with catholicism and originated new national polytheists religions such as Candomblé and Umbanda during the early 19th century.
Followers of these Afro-American religions worship their orishas, the "African gods", in many parts of the country, but this happens a lot more in Bahia. The orisha Yemanja is mainly celebrated on February 2nd. Known as the Queen of Seas, patron of women and fishermen, she is a strong feminine motherly symbol and is believed to love flowers, fruits and objects of female vanity like jewelry, combs, mirrors and perfume. People usually gather these gifts in large straw baskets and deliver them in the open sea with the help of fishermen, who uses their boats to do this route all day long.
Bahia, Brazil, 2020.
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