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Worship of Yemoja/Yemanjá, Afro-Brazilian Sea Goddess, Takes Center Stage at Rio de Janeiro’s New Year Celebration


At Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, a significant gathering occurred as devotees came together to honor Yemoja/Yemanjá, the Great Mother of the Sea.

This event is deeply rooted in the religious traditions of the African diaspora in Brazil, particularly in the Afro-Brazilian Candomble and Umbanda faiths.

These syncretic religions, which blend West and Central African, Indigenous American, and Portuguese colonial influences, pay homage to Yemoja/Yemanjá as a central deity.

Helio Sillman, the festival’s organizer, expressed his gratitude for past blessings and sought good health, prosperity, and various other blessings for the year 2024.

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Yemoja/Yemanjá Festival in Brazil

The Yemoja/Yemanjá Festival, a traditional New Year tribute held on December 29, featured vibrant celebrations with singing, drumming, and dancing, attracting a large crowd of worshippers.

Participants, often dressed in white, paid their respects to the sea goddess through prayers and offerings left on the beach sands, including flowers, candles, fruits, perfume, and beverages, some of which were sent out to sea on small boats.

The festival not only celebrates the deity but also serves as a poignant reminder of the transatlantic slave trade’s impact on Brazil, a major destination for enslaved Africans.

This historical context adds a layer of depth and significance to the ceremonies, highlighting the enduring influence of African cultures in Brazil and the resilience of these hybridized religious traditions.


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