In Santo Amaro, a Bahian Recôncavo town, Bembê do Mercado is a festival that commemorates this event every May 13. Candomblé rites are practiced under a barracão (a big tent) with religious icons and symbols set up in front of the town’s mercado (market). Musical shows, capoeira, samba de roda and maculelê are some of the highlights of the celebration. Nego Fugido, a reenactment of a slave escape attempt that resulted in recapture and the purchase of manumission, takes place in the streets. At the end of the celebrations, a fireworks display is followed by a ritual offering to Iemanjá at nearby Itapema Beach.
Carnaval in Bahia (Carnaval Baiano) is one of the biggest street parties in the world. Every year this carnival brings over 2 million people from all races, religions, and cultures together to its capital city, Salvador. The event lasts officially for six full days, starting on a Thursday, then follows the usual five days of carnival (from Friday to Wednesday at noon). The festival takes place throughout the city at many sites. The most famous being the Campo Grande track (in the upper part of the city), Barra-Ondina track (by the shore), and Pelourinho (the historical neighborhood). It features many different rhythms and several musical performances. The most traditional presentations are the trio elétrico parades (trucks or buses carrying musicians, instruments, and sound systems), and Afro-blocos playing samba-reggae rhythms. Estimations state that approximately 2.5 million people (1.5 million being tourists) participate in the festivities every year.
Watch members of Batala Mundo play in the bloco for Cortejo Afro in Salvador at Carnaval de 2012.
Yemanjá (sometimes spelled Iemanjá), also known as the “Rainha do Mar (Queen of the Sea)”, is a Yoruba deity. In the Candomblé religion, she represents the salt waters (ocean and sea). In Bahia, the biggest party for Yemanjá occurs on February 2, when thousands of people dress in white and go to the beach of Rio Vermelho singing, dancing, and depositing offerings such as baskets of flowers, mirrors, jewelry, food, perfumes, and other objects to receive blessings and prosperity for the year ahead. Offerings which do not return to shore are deemed accepted. Yemanjá is connected to the Christian Mary, Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes (Our Lady of Seafarers), whose Catholic feast day is on February 2.
On January 20 many Brazilians celebrate the orixá Oxóssi (pronounced oh-SHAW-see) who manifests as vegetation and is represented by the forests that provide food for the world. He also represents the abundant harvest and prosperity. Oxóssi is characterized as a lone hunter with a bow and arrow and is an excellent tracker who is supplicated to find a path out of any difficult situation, a solution to any problem, or to achieve a targeted goal. His colors are green and sky blue, and offerings for him are axoxó (red corn with coconut), various fruits, roasted black eye peas. He is also syncretized with the Catholic saints George and Sebastian.