February 2nd: Bahia celebrates Iemanjá, mother of all Orixás


Iemanjá’s Festival usually attracts thousands of local people and tourists that take their offerings to the Queen of Waters, asking for protection in a ritual of faith and devotion. The gifts are placed at Casa do Peso, in Rio Vermelho’s Fishing Colony, under the sound of drums and fireworks to finally be placed in the water.

For the fishermen, Iemanjá is the great mother, generous and respectful. And as religious syncretism is what makes Bahia different from any other destination, while Candomblé believers worship the Orixá of African origin, Catholics dress in white to celebrate Our Lady Conception.

According to Marcos de Souza, the festival’s coordinator, Iemanjá’s House opens at 7:00am on Sunday (February 1st) for visitors and offerings. In the early hours on Monday, believers go to the terreiro Ode Mirim, located at Engenho Velho da Federação, to perform rituals in honor of Iemanjá.

Later, the cortege goes to Tororó’s Dam, where they deliver Oxum’s present. Around 5:00pm, already in Rio Vermelho, fireworks announce the main present, officially opening the festival.

Offerings are received until 3:30pm and around 4:00pm the fishermen carry out the maritime cortege, summit of the festival. Around seven hundred baskets are divided in about three hundred vessels. The offerings are placed in the water four miles away from the coast, at a spot called Buraquinho de Iaiá.

Origin – The festival started in 1923, when a group of fishermen facing shortage of fish decided to offer gifts to Iemanjá. The fish came back and from that time on, fishermen make offerings to the Queen of Waters as a way of showing gratitude and ask for protection and calm waters.




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