By Nicole Froio, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Though Carnival is just around the corner, Rio has another important cultural celebration to take care of as today marks the Brazilian goddess of the sea, Iemanjá. After being honored by flowers in New Year’s Eve, the goddess will be once again celebrated by believers of her faith.

Festa de Iemanjá in Bahia
Festa de Iemanjá in Bahia, photo by Tatiana Azeviche/Setur.

Around two hundred people had gathered early for a procession in her name at Cinelândia, holding flowers, candles and mirrors to be offered to her by the sea. The devoted walk to Praça Quize (XV) where they boarded a boat, sponsored by CCR, to the Praia de Icaraí (Icaraí Beach). There, gifts will be offered to Iemanjá.

Luiz Rubens Cervasio has been a believer and celebrator of Iemanjá for 45 years. He told O Globo: “Every year we give Iemanjá a present and thank her for everything she has given us.”

The goddess is an entity of the religion Camdomblé, a Brazilian-African hybrid religion that was born in times of slavery. Though the commemoration is biggest in Bahia, where the origins of Camdomblé can be directly traced to, Rio de Janeiro followers have been celebrating in Cinelândia in recent years.

Hairdresser Marcos de Morais has been going to the procession for six. His presents to the goddess consist of manjar (morsel), shells, rice cake with shrimp and a doll that represents Iemanjá. He told O Globo: “She represents the strength of water, peace and open paths to everything good in life.

The celebration reportedly started in Bahia in 1923, when the seas were not being kind to fishermen. The fish were scarce, so the celebration to please the sea goddess started and hasn’t stopped ever since.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.


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