Considered the second biggest popular manifestation and the main religious event in Bahia, Bonfim’s Festival takes place on the second Thursday after Epiphany, celebrated on January 6th. “Baianas” wearing typical outfits start the ritual, carrying vases with water and perfume to wash the stairway and the parvis of the church.
The cortege leaves Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia Church towards Bonfim, an eight-kilometer walk. Thousands of people participate in the celebration, all dressed in white to honor Oxalá, a deity that represents Our Lord of Bonfim in Candomblé (African religion). While the “baianas” wash the stairway with water and perfume, believers sing the hymn of Our Lord of Bonfim.
The celebration started in 1754, when the image of the Crucified Lord – brought by the Portuguese captain Teodósio Rodrigues in 1745 – was transferred from Penha Church, in Itapagipe, to its own church, at the Colina Sagrada (Sacred Hill).