This is me. The picture was taken this morning.
See that yellow string on my right wrist?
It used to be a ribbon once, a very special ribbon which Brazilians call a fita do Senhor do Bomfim. At least ninety percent of
’s population has worn one of these things at some point in their lives, and the ones who haven’t are mostly too young to tie knots. Brazil
Here’s a (very brief) resumé of how the custom began and why we do it:
More than three million Africans were imported into
as slaves. Brazil
They brought with them the Yoruba religions of
Africa, which came to become inextricably mixed with Catholicism.
For more than 250 years,
Salvador, in the northeastern state of Bahia, was Brazil’s . Rome
do Bomfim (Our Lord of Good Endings) became the Afro-Brazilian Vatican. church of Nosso Senhor
On the high altar of that church is a statue of Christ, carved many years ago in Portugual.
The length of the statue’s right arm is 47 centimeters.
Which is the length of one of these ribbons.
The ribbon bears these words: “Lembrança do Nosso Senhor do Bomfim da Bahia”
(A reminder/memory/souvenir of Our Lord of Good Endings of Bahia.)
Wearing them became a declaration of faith and, later, something more.
You’ll find them on the fence around the church.
This shot is of the same fence, taken from the opposite direction.
They come in various colors, each one identified with both a Catholic saint and an Orixa, an African deity responsible for a particular form of activity or endeavor. Mine is that of Oxum, the spirit-protector of writers and artists.
We wear them on our ankles or on our wrists.
We tie them on with three knots, one above the other.
And, as we do, we make three wishes.
Mine has been in place for about fourteen months.
I dearly wish it would fall off.
But I can’t remove it.
If I do, I run the grave risk of never having any of my wishes fulfilled.
But, if I hold the course, they’ll all come true.
Yeah, it seems silly doesn’t it? Being afraid to take it off?
But I could tell you stories…
Interested in having a fita do Senhor do Bomfim of your very own?
(If you don’t want to tie it on, it makes a great bookmark.)
Now’s your chance.
I left some fitas with one of my daughters in the ‘States.
I’d be happy to ask her to send you one. Just go to http://www.leightongage.com
When you get there, hit the “contact me” button and send me a mailing address.
The offer is good until the end of February, I’ll send them anywhere in the world, and I’ll do it as long as my daughter’s stock holds out.
Leighton - Monday