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By Ciara Long, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Thursday, February 2nd marks the official day if Iemanjá, the goddess of the sea celebrated by Afrobrazilian religions including Candomblé and Umbanda. Celebrations will take place throughout the city, with ceremonies and public offerings on Rio’s beaches.

Iemanjá Day celebrations taking place in Rio de Janeiro, photo by Tomaz Silva/ Agência Brasil. Brazil, Brazil News, Rio de Janeiro, Iemanja, Iemanja Day celebration, candomble, umbanda
Iemanjá Day celebrations taking place in Rio de Janeiro, photo by Tomaz Silva/Agência Brasil.

Iemanjá is one of the orixás of Afrobrazilian religions, and is also celebrated on New Year’s Eve, or Reveillon, throughout Brazil. While February 2nd marks the Candomblé celebration of the goddess, Umbanda followers celebrate her on February 15th.

In previous years, religious groups have made offerings on many of the Zona Sul (South Zone) beaches in Rio, including in Leme, Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. This year, religious organizations will also hold traditional ceremonies further north in the city, in Quintino, Cais do Valongo and Maria de Graça.

Traditional offerings to the goddess, whose name has roots in the West African Yoruba language and means ‘mother whose children are fish’, include wearing white, skipping seven waves for good luck and sending white flowers out into the ocean for good luck.

If your flower offering is returned to you by the waves, this is seen as bad luck or as Iemanjá’s rejection of your offering. To combat this, many followers will often send their offerings out in a blue boat.

While the city’s beaches are likely to see ceremonies throughout the day, Rio will also host several non-traditional celebrations. Casa França-Brasil will pay homage to the goddess with an evening of live music performances and artist’s videos of traditional Iemanjá celebrations over the last few decades.

Meanwhile, Humaita restaurant Co.zinha will commemorate the event with a Bahian-inspired menu, and Lapa-based Afoxé Estrela Doyá invites those making offerings to a free lunch.

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