Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bonfim in Bahia and Lavender waters

Baianas carring the vase with flowers & perfume waters to wash the stairs of Bonfim
January is the month of the Bonfim Feast (Washing of the Bonfim Stairs Cerimony) in Bahia (Brazil).
Bonfim is the most famous Catholic church in the state.
It was built in the 18th century on a hill in the Itapagipe peninsula, in the lower town of Salvador. The church is the subject of intense religious devotion by the people of Salvador, and is the site of a famous celebration held every year in January (Festa do Senhor do Bonfim).
The Festa do Bonfim (Feast of Bonfim) is one of the most important annual popular celebrations in Salvador, starting on January 6th, the second Thursday after 3 kings day.
Drumers at the procession
On this Thursday, at 10:00 am, the cortejo (ten-kilometer procession) is scheduled to leave for the Church of Bonfim. In front of the Church of Conceição da Praia there are Baianas (Bahia ladies) dressed in all white with multicolored sacred beads, carrying long white vases on their heads filled with perfumed water (made of fragrant herbs such as basil, lavender and macaça) and white flowers. 
There are also horse-drawn carriages, musicians, as well as government officials, including the mayor of Salvador. The Carnaval group Filhos de Gandhy (Sons of Gandhi), who traditionally lead the procession, march right behind the Baianas all the way to the Church of Bonfim. Whereas the procession group and bystanders congregate outside the church, tens of thousands of others are scattered around among booths of food and drinks, and trio elétricos featuring such musical favorites as Olodum, Ara Ketu, Gera Samba. All participants, Filhos de Gandhy, Baianas and regular people alike wear white, the color of the Yoruba God (Oxalá), who is syncretized with Senhor do Bonfim. After an hour or so, all arrive at the Church of Bonfim, lined with spectators and policemen. The Baianas starts pouring the perfumed water from the vases onto people's hands and heads, for blessing, and on the steps of the closed church; the flowers are dumped at the steps all well.
Seiva de Alfazema Cologne
In 1943 the Lavender cologne called Seiva de Alfazema was created in factory in Belém do Pará (a state in the north of Brazil) by Phebo, and inspired by Swiss Alps. In the beginning it was sold in half liter bottles, and it became a symbol of prestige in that region, therefore it was also used to prepare the Bonfim water), but in 1988 the company was sold to Procter and Gamble as a strategy to enter in the Brazilian market. Today the perfume is no longer used to wash the stairs of the church and P&G extended the line, selling deodorants, creams, powder.
In 2003 the company launched a slogan that went back to the tradition of Bahia by saying that Seiva de Alfazema was the perfume that "perfumes the body and washes the soul", trying to use the idea that Lavender washes the soul.
They also included a phrase - The original - refuse imitations" due to the fact that the market was offering other similar products.
The fragrance is a blend of lavender flowers with woody and musk notes.
Carmem Miranda - Baiana made in USA
Baiana made in Brazil (Bahia)

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