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The Bonfim Ribbons What do they represent and what is their Spiritual Meaning?

Bonfim ribbons

It is usual to observe many people from the Brazilian people wearing colored ribbons known as Bonfim ribbons on their wrists.

As usual as visualizing bracelets of dissimilar shades that Cubans wear.

And it is that the so-called Bonfim tapes of Brazil have an extremely special significance that includes spirituality, faith and an immense tradition.

Made of fabric, nylon and even acetate, the Bonfim ribbons are a tribute to the Senhor do Bonfim or Lord of Bonfim and a representative element of the cultural syncretism between the Brazilian people and African religious expressions, as these accessories also have a place among the samples of devotion to the pantheon of the Orixas, deities of the candomblé religion.

And although the ribbons have changed their style over the years, the truth is that these accessories are still scattered throughout Brazilian cities, where it is quite common to walk with a ribbon tied to the wrist or ankle representing some religious belief and the esteem for a saint.

These tapes have even become a souvenir that many tourists who visit Brazilian locations like to acquire, although not many know the broad significance of these beautiful samples of faith.

The tape, however, is a special attraction, relatively cheap and easy to transport.

The oldest Brazilian settlers always tell tourists interested in the Bonfim, the history and the multiple uses of these accessories.

History of the colored ribbons of our Lord of Bonfim and their meaning:

¡A bit of traditional Brazilian history!

Bonfim ribbons are included in Brazilian history, customs and traditions. Their appearance dates back to 1809, and it is said that they were created by the treasurer Manoel Antônio da Silva Serva de la Devoção de Nosso Senhor do Bonfim in order to obtain resources for the reconstruction of the church in the XNUMXth century.

The first tapes appeared in Bahia, Manoel's place of residence, although today they are a symbol throughout Brazil.

However, the Catholic ribbons that marked the beginning of the tradition are very different from those used today.

Characteristics of the tapes at that time:

  • The tape measure was between six and seven centimeters wide
  • They were made of white, cotton or silk
  • They had the design and the name of the Saint embroidered by hand
  • Ornaments were made in gold or silver paint, like gold threads.
  • Although it is currently commonly worn on the wrist and ankle or tied to the fence of the Church of Bonfim, the ribbon, called Medida do Bonfim, was worn around the neck, like a necklace.
  • Medals, saints and pendants were attached to the accessory.

That is why when a devotee made a promise to the saint, he carried a photo or a wax sculpture around his neck representing the part of the body healed with the saint's help.

Some Brazilian historians even say that the tradition of the tapes did not originate in Brazil, but that they came from Portugal and became popular in festivals and celebrations of saints such as Nusestra Señora de la Concepción (Nossa Senhora da Conceição) and Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria. (Nossa Senhora das Candeias).

But it was not until 1950 that the use of Bonfim tapes on the wrists and ankles became widespread.

In that decade, the ribbons began to be sold as souvenirs, as they were said to have the power to perform miracles and were used as a personal amulet.

What does Bonfim mean in Spanish?

Bonfim o bomfim It can refer to the Lord of the Good End, which is a Catholic devotion, which shows the great syncretism and mixture of cults in Brazil, a product of European and African transculturation.

They are symbols of a religious holiday

Bonfim ribbons are specific symbols of the Brazilian religious festival known as Lavagem do Bonfim, a popular festival that has taken place for almost 250 years in the Bahian capital, and is celebrated on the second Thursday in January.

Bahia is recognized as the land of saints, charms and axé, where the Catholic religion is syncretized with candomblé and the worship of the orixas.

Why is it considered a Wishes tape?

They say that Bonfim ribbons have the power to grant wishes. Specifically, it is said that three wishes can be fulfilled to those who tie them with great faith in three loops around the wrist.

Usually they are tied at the wrists, ankles or on the bars of the churches in honor of the saints that each color represents.

The person who will use the tape You need to wrap it around the doll twice and tie it with three knots. Then you should think about your wishes by touching each knot, without revealing them to anyone.

What we long for will only come true if the ribbon breaks by itself at the knot that corresponds to each wish.

The colors of the ribbons in honor of the Orixas

Although the Bonfim tapes are a tradition that began in the Catholic Church, like many of the religious elements of Brazil, they have been syncretized with the African cult of the deities of the Candomble pantheon.

Therefore, they are also a symbol of local religious syncretism.

According to its colors, each ribbon represents an orixá.

Next, we show the color that symbolizes the deity, the name of the orixa venerated in the Candomblé religion and its equivalent to the orishas of the Yoruba pantheon.

ColorOrixa of CandombléOrisha of Santeria
Dark or light green Oxossiochosi
Light Blue YemanjáYemaya
Yellow OxumOshun
Dark blue OgumOggun
Different colors or pink Ibeji erê and OxumaréIbeyis and Oshumare
Blanco OxaláObatala
Purple NanaNana Buruku
Black with red letters Exú and PombagiraElegua-Eshu
Black with white letters Omulu and ObaluaêBabalu Aye
Red IansãOyá yansa
Red with white letters XangôShango
Green with white letters Ossainosain

Many tapes also represent Catholic Saints who syncretize with the Orixas. Thus they represent the force of spirituality and popular syncretism.

Bonfim ribbons and the meaning of their colors

Ribbon colorMeaning
Yellow tapePleasure, wealth, and creativity in life
Blue or light blue ribbon Fortune, prosperity, harmony, friendship, and happiness.
White ribbonHealth, peace, tranquility, divinity, balance and harmony.
Green ribbonIt is the tape of work, youth, and rest
Purple ribbon, lilac Strengthens self-control, symbolizes religiosity, and everything solemn.
Pink RibbonIt is goodness, the absence of all evil, and all good feelings in life.
Orange ribbonHappiness, pleasure, and satisfaction, all that we successfully achieve.
Red tapePassion and love, to carry out what we want in life.
Green ribbonHope, work, youth, rest and well-being in our being.

Dissimilar materials for its preparation What are they made of?

The first ribbons to appear in the XNUMXth century were made of silk or cotton. But nowadays, nylon and synthetic tapes, in addition to polyester, are more popular.

In the 1960s, many were made of acetate.

In many places they are made of cotton so that the material can be easily broken, to indicate that one of the wishes requested of the ribbons and a particular Orixa has been achieved.

Today these tapes of between 44 and 50 centimeters are made, although smaller versions are often offered, of approximately 30 centimeters, so that the cost is cheaper.

The truth is that Bonfim tapes they are symbols of faith and identity, of religiosity and beliefs, that keep those who trust them, full of hopes and desires to be fulfilled.

Learn more about the Orishas of the Yoruba Pantheon and Santeria:

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