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.