Yemanja, goddess of the sea

yemanja-brazil-vitoria-travelswiththegypsyqueen
A statue of Yemanja in Vitoria, Brazil

In some parts of Brazil, most notably Salvador de Bahia, February 2 is celebrated as the day of Yemanja.
The festival honours Yemanja, the goddess of the sea, also known as Yemoja, Iemanja or Yemaya.
Salvador is one of the oldest cities in the Americas, and was also the port where the largest number of slaves arrived on ships from Africa. It then stands to reason that some of the culture, customs and religions brought across with those slaves were kept alive in Salvador.
Although the colonisers in Brazil, and indeed many other parts of the Americas, tried to force everyone to convert to Catholicism, Afro-Brazilians with roots from West Africa have kept alive the religion of Candomble.
Yemanja is one of the most important orishas, or deities, in the Candomble religion. She is considered the goddess of the sea, protector of sailors, and giver of life.
You can see statues of the goddess close to the ocean in many parts of Brazil, and on any given day a number of people will pass by the statues giving thanks for safe passage, or praying for fertility and making offerings for whatever they feel thankful for or would like to ask the goddess to help grant them.
On February 2 in Salvador, a festival is held where people dressed in white carry statues of the orisha in a boat adorned with flowers and other decorations down to the sea.
Nowadays it is not only believers of Candomble who follow the tradition, but something many people from all walks of life get into, I guess another one of many markers that points to Brazil as a true melting pot of cultures.

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3 thoughts on “Yemanja, goddess of the sea

      • I read many incidents now about church forcing people. In India, when British invasion took place, many people were forced or lured to Christianity. Again this time I travelled to Sweden, and read there about sami, the indigenous people of Sweden Norway Finland and Russia. They were forced and even burnt with fire to bring them to church and the Crown helped in that. Again now I know from you about people of Africa and South America. It is truly sad. Religion must bring peace to people, not destruction

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