h1

Iemanjá, the queen of the seas

February 2, 2010

Tonight, along the Brazilian coast, several hundred thousand people will pay their respects to Iemanjá, the queen of the seas, the beautiful orixá (deity) of candomblé, one of the main Afro-Brazilian religions. Brought to the country by the slaves of yoruba tradition, the cult of Iemanjá (or Yemanja or Janaína) can also be seen in other countries, such as neighboring Uruguay (shown in the pictures displayed here) and Cuba.

On Iemanjá Day, February 2nd, the devouts dress in white and bring to the beach all sorts of gifts for the orishá, such as mirrors and perfume (she is known for her vanity). She also receives flowers and certain dishes, such as fish, rice and a sweet milk pudding. The offerings are displayed on the sand or taken by boats further into the sea. The next morning, everything is washed back to the sand. People may also jump over seven waves and receive, over their head, a bunch of popcorn, in the candomblé tradition. In Rio, though, the celebration happens around New Year’s day.

Iemanjá‘s figure is somehow related to the cult of Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes (Our Lady of the Navigators) – a representation of Virgin Mary that is celebrated in the same day. Several orixás have “correspondent” Catholic saints because, during the slavery period, Africans were not allowed to practice their religions and had to find creative ways to keep their faith. Intertwining candomblé and Catholicism was their only option.

Gifts for the orixá displayed in a little boat in Montevideo, Uruguay

Advertisements

One comment

  1. Sure would love a plunge into the ocean in her honor today. A little song will have to do.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: