Festa de Santa Bárbara / Iansã in Salvador’s Centro Histórico this Tuesday, December 4th

The best day of the year in Pelourinho (Salvador’s Centro Histórico)…red & white are the colors to be worn, the colors of Iansã (ee-ahn-SAHN), Afro-Brazilian deity of storms and lightning, syncretized with Saint Barbara.

The greeting is “Epa hei!” (traditional greeting for Iansã)

The day begins with a Mass in the Largo do Pelourinho, and a cortege to the firehouse in the Baixa dos Sapateiros (Saint Barbara is the patron saint of firefighters).

Beginning in the afternoon there will be samba in the various squares of Pelourinho, including Samba Chula de São Braz at 4 p.m. in the Largo do Pelourinho.

This is something of a travesty given that Samba Chula de São Braz was the group of brothers João do Boi and Alumínio Saturno (now passed). The name was stolen by their erstwhile kind-of-manager, and João do Boi, the icon who was the focal point of the group, decided not to contest this effrontery, simply renaming his group “Samba Chula João do Boi”.

João do Boi of Bahia, Brazil
João do Boi. Accept no substitutes! This man is part of an unbroken lineage stretching back to the first Africans to arrive in Brazil. He grew up without electricity and learned his music from his forbears. The current ‘Samba Chula de São Braz’ learned their chula (primordial Bahian samba) by listening to João’s recordings! And now their manager gets them hired in João’s place, trading on his name. It’s too much!!!

Later in the day things can get kind of rough down around the bottom of the Largo do Pelourinho…