For the last 190 years, the few dozen members of the Sorority of the Good Death – all of them black women over 50 – have been promoting Festa da Boa Morte in Cachoeira, in the state of Bahia. Originally a secret society, the sorority keeps a tradition that intertwines Catholic and African elements, such as the devotion to Mary and comidas de santo – dishes offered to the orixás in the Candomblé religion. Officially it was created to celebrate the Virgin and to provide decent funerals to slaves and their descendents. But, in fact, it was a way of preserving African traditions and fight against slavery.
It includes a mess, a procession, a vigil, street parties where the local population dances the very traditional samba de roda, and eat caruru (made from okra, onion, shrimp, palm oil and toasted nuts) and feijoada (a complex meal that includes a stew of black beans with pork and several side dishes).