Saturday, February 04, 2006


Yemanja 2
Originally uploaded by Brazil Bean Brewed.

February 2nd is the biggest day for those who practice Condomble during the year. Keith, Lauren, Russ, Val, Alicia, Len and I decided we had to go see what this was all about. At lunch they were doing live broadcasts from there and we could tell there was going to be a lot of people. But we had no idea! We jumped on a bus and headed down towards the beach, towards the Barra lighthouse to arrive at the catholic church that is built along the ocean where everything takes place. What would normally be a 15 minute bus ride, extended to 45 minutes because of the traffic and detours. Finally we just got off the bus and walked the rest of the way. The closer we got, the more people that enveloped us. One of the first things you notice is that this religious holiday is in one sense a big secular drunk fest. As there was on kiosk after another selling beer. However, there was no shortage of devoted people as well, who would walk in big groups of people from miles from the different neighborhoods. In the middle of the group there was always a group of guys carrying a wooden plank that held what looked like a mermaid on top, surrounded by flowers and candles. Each groups had different chants, which seemed to be from the African native languages, and each procession was headed toward the church. We made our way down through all the people to the ocean and headed to the beach. As we turned around the corner into the bay, the sight was unbelievable. There were thousands of people standing in the bay looking out into the sea, shooting off firecrackers, loud enough to blast your eardrums. In the bay there were boats everywhere that would take turns coming to the beach where the processions would put their Yemanja goddess into the boat. Then at four in the heat of the sun, all the boats started heading out into the sea. Some people rowed, while others were big yachts with big engines. We were told that out there all the boat were offering to their goddess by placing their planks on the open water. Then everyone waited, they wait to see if their offering returns to shore. If it doesn’t, then they will be blessed for the next year, Yemanja had accepted their offering. The way most of them a built, I would be surprised if any of them come back. The probably all sink to the bottom of the sea right where they were placed. Amazing how that works. It would be a good place to go scuba diving though. Around seven word gets out that Yemanja accepted the offerings for the year and then the partying starts, but we were long gone by then. Overall it was an interesting day but it made me thankful that I have come to know the God of the Bible who lives in my heart through the Holy Spirit and only desires that my life be a holy sacrifice. We pray that we can teach many people about the true God, Yahweh.

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