Monday, August 16, 2010

Sugary sugar, Religion, and Graduations

A new week of adventures under my belt! My friend Danielle and I attempted to make chocolate chip cookies but, ignorant of the intricacies of sugar, we used unrefined Brazilian cane sugar that made our cookies into solid sugar balls instead of what they should be. Oops! Who knew that Brazilian sugar was more sugary!? Later that week my host sister and I made a very successful strawberry cake however. Much more delicious.
This week I also visited one of the most famous churches in Salvador, the Church of Bonfim, and went to an interesting religious ceremony in the city of Cachoeira (which means waterfall in Portuguese), about 2 hours from Salvador. The church has a room full of wax body parts. These are offerings representing illnesses people are asking to be cured. Some of them were very elaborate and the room was a little bit creepy. The gate around the church is full of ribbons with the church's name. These ribbons, also used as bracelets, are used to make wishes. Each knot tied is one wish and when it falls off the wishes are supposed to come true. We'll see!
Wish ribbons on the church fence
Wax body parts hanging from the ceiling
Overlook at a fort by the Church of Bonfim
The ceremony in Cachoeira was a celebration of the ascension of the Virgin Mary, but a combination of Afro-Brazilian cult and Catholicism tradition. The Brotherhood of Good Death is the name of the group who perform the ritual. They are a group of older Afro-Brazilian women who practice candomblé, which often mirrors or includes many Catholic traditions because of Portuguese influence in slave traditions.
The statue of Virgin Mary entering the church at the head of the procession

I also attended a graduation ceremony for the Administration department at my university. Graduations here are VERY different than from the states. It was a private ceremony, not sponsored by the university, and those who chose to participate had to pay about $2000 USD. Needless to say there were not very many participants. It was a huge ceremony with everyone in very formal attire and the most european-looking Brazilians I have seen so far. It felt like a social status parade or show. Very interesting to see the differences from the US and Brazil. The family is the center of the ceremonial traditions here.
My host sister Luize and I in our apt before leaving
The stage

Well that's all I have for now. Again, send me an email or comment. I would love to hear from everyone back home! Many of my friends from Pacific are leaving for their year abroad this month and it's so exciting watching them prepare. Studying abroad is such an enriching and amazing experience. Good luck everyone! Much love from Brazil!

1 comment:

  1. What wonderful things to see and strange too. You look lovely. Miss you and look forward to your return and the full slide show! Saw Sierra in her plays. She did well and worked so hard. You will enjoy the pictures on the playhouse site and the videos I am sure. She is the last I know in kids at play so no one to watch for a while. Thinking of you. Fran