Ribbons (fitas) on the fence of the 18th-century Igreja NS do Bonfim. Fitas are a souvenir of the church and have come to symbolize Bahia itself. Bonfim’s fame derives from its power to effect miraculous cures, which has transformed it from a rather ordinary church into a popular shrine.
If you tie a fita around your wrist, you are making a commitment that lasts for months. With each of the three knots a wish is made, which will come true by the time the fita falls off. Cutting it off is inviting doom.