Ethnic and Spiritual Growth

Enjoy the Festival of Yemanja

When the second month of the year rolls around, Brazilians across the country celebrate Yemanja, the goddess of the sea, regardless of their faith. Things are even bigger in the city of Salvador. The festivities tend to be huge and attract massive crowds. The Rio Vermelho neighborhood is where the celebration is the largest. Every February 2nd is a fantastic time as Candomblé adherents offer gifts and flowers to the goddess towards the edge of the sea and send them into the ocean. Everyone has to wear white clothing to mark the occasion. There is also lots of music and dancing involved.

Who Is Yemanja?

Yemanja, or Lemanja, is the goddess of the sea. She is considered a major deity in the Candomblé faith. She looks after the fishermen and sailors and helps them catch more fish. As a powerful goddess, she deals with womanhood and family. She protects children and is commonly shown as a mermaid wearing a blue or white dress.

What Is Candomblé?

For those who do not know, Candomblé is a West African religion that came to Brazil by enslaved people back in the 16th century. As the enslaved people were forbidden to follow their faith, they had to practice Catholicism which was the religion of their masters. What the enslaved people noticed was that there were similarities between the Catholic saints and the Yoruban Orixas. Yemanja was treated as Virgin Mary. Thus, the enslaved people merged the two religions and created Candomblé. The religion continues to be practiced in Brazil today.

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The Orisha of Transformation

Elegba (Legba, Esu, or Eshu) is the messenger god who presides over crossroads, doorways, and transformation. He is a protective, benevolent spirit who serves Ifa, the chief god, as a messenger between heaven and Earth. Elegba also stands for change and uncertainty.

Story of Elegba
Elegba is a trickster who is unpredictable, sly, and fond of pranks. He became a messenger god because he tricked the High God, who was then living on Earth. Due to his tricks, the High God decided to reside in the heavens and ordered Elegba to fly to him through the sky every night and report everything that happened back on Earth. Because of his trickster characteristics, he is often paired with Ifa, the God of Order.

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Aganju: the Orisha of Volcanoes

According to Yoruba mythology, Aganju is the Orisha of volcanoes, the wilderness, and the earth. He is associated with Saint Christopher and is believed to be the third Orisha said to have come to earth and is an Orisha of great antiquity.
In the Yoruba areas of Nigeria and the Benin Republic, Aganju is known as a revered warrior king from Shaki town in the present-day Oyo State of Nigeria. Aganju was said to walk with a sword and to fight by shooting fire.

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The Yoruba God of Wisdom

In the Yoruba Ifa religion, Orunmila is the God of Wisdom. In terms of Ifa, he is perhaps the most revered divination god. Orunmila is the most frequently invoked Orisa in the Ifa Yoruba religion. Olodumare bestows infinite wisdom on Orunmila, allowing her to foretell, predict, and read human minds and thoughts. He was the only Orisha permitted to witness Olorun’s creation of the universe and bears witness to our destinies. Eleri Ipin, or in other words, “Witness to Destiny in its Creation,” is derived from this. His priests, known as Babalawos or “Fathers of the Secrets,” must devote their lives to divination and the associated arts.

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The Orisha of Herbs: Osanyin

Osanyin refers to a lesser god credited with all knowledge of herbs, leaves, and roots for medicinal purposes. Osanyin is missing a leg, and an arm lost as punishment from all the other orishas when he attempted to conquer the world with magical domination. He is also blind in one eye. He has one arm and one leg that he lost as punishment from all the other orishas when he attempted to conquer the world with magical domination. Osanyin is a divine herbalist who knows all of the earth’s botanical secrets.

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