The Spirit of the Mandú in the Recôncavo

There’s a legend that says the mandú, a character from Bahian folklore, came to be through the story of a couple that was constantly fighting. During one of their fights, the husband prayed for a plague so that his pregnant wife would have a son with crooked legs. And so it was. They had three handicapped children and went to live shamefully in the jungle. During the Iemanja festival, they went to the streets, dressed so that they could not be seen.

These days, the people of Cachoeira (in the Recôncavo region of Bahia) dress themselves as mandús during festivals and walk down the streets singing and giving off an air of mystery. It is believed that if one is touched by the mandú as it walks by, then they will become a carrier of a bad spirit too. This folkloric mandú is a remaking of the mandú represented in the worship of the dead and is seen as a spirit of light that is still evolving. In the Recôncavo, it is common to hear the expressions “Sai daqui, mandú!” (Get out of here, mandú!) and “Lá vai o mandú!” (There goes the mandú!) to refer to unwanted people.

These and other stories are full of mystery, where the most important thing is the wisdom found in living side by side with the unknown.

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