Monday, February 06, 2006

Iemanja

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This celebration comes from African religious beliefs and the Umbanda religion. Iemanja is one of the Orixás (pronounced orisha and meaning god) they believe in, the orixá of all waters, also known as the mother of all orixás. She has the power of procreation.

Although in Brazil the selected date is December 31st, in Uruguay she is worshipped every February 2nd.Iemanja UruguayOn this day, thousands of people will gather at different beaches to honor Iemanja and receive her blessing and protection. Although most beaches will be crowded, the most popular one is Playa Ramírez. Not only devotees will attend, every year more and more curious people will stop by to watch the festivity. They start arriving in the afternoon and they will leave late at night, around 3 in the morning.

Celebrants are mostly dressed in white or light blue and they will make different kinds of offers to the goddess. The most common offers are flowers, watermelons and candles. However, some people go a little further by making sand sculptures or small boats that will carry a sculpture of her and will be full of fruits and foods of different kinds, money, candles and whatever you can imagine.

Iemanja UruguayIemanja Uruguay

Sometimes even some animals, such as chicken or pigeons will be sacrificed and their blood given to Iemanja. The offers will be launched into the sea and if they are swept out she will have accepted the offer. In return, the person making the offer will have their wishes come true enjoying health, money and a great love life. If the offers return to the shore, whishes unfortunately won’t come true. At sunset is when most people get into the sea to make the offer but this will continue until late at night, especially with people lighting candles and putting them in holes they dig in the sand Iemanja UruguayIemanja Uruguay
Before and after the offers are made celebrants will form a circle and dance to the rhythm of the drums while some people get blessed by pais and mais. These people can communicate with the orixas and with the spirits of dead people that are walking around and give them protection. When she gets out of the water, the mai is in a trance. She will spin around and speak in Yoruba, the African language that the orixas speak. In that moment, she is not herself, she has been taken by an orixa and she will offer protection to the supplicants.
Iemanja UruguayIemanja Uruguay
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15 comments:

Arapey Olivera said...

I visited my grandfather in Montevideo 2 years ago and am planning to return in September for another 6 months or so of travelling through South America.
My grandmother ashes were spread in the ocean in that spot. My family jokes that the people are actually worshipping her :P
Anyway, I enjoy your entries and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Uruguay and the people were so nice although sometimes a bit reserved. Reminds me of where I live now, in Canada.

Lau said...

Muy buenas fotos Tali!!

Anonymous said...

Estos macumberos ademas de ser todos farsantes son unos sucios. Quieren ver magia?? Les muesto lo q puede hacer un gatillo y un cartucho con polvora. Macumberos mugrientos, dense una ducha.

Becky said...

This doesn't really have anything to do with your Blog page, although it's a great Blog!! I went to school with Arapey Olivera..and has wondered what happened to him..so I googled him, and there he was..on your page.

Arapey, if you read this, Becky Laliberte says HI..

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