- Title: Faithful pay tribute to Brazil’s sea goddess, Yemanja
- Date: 30th December 2016
- Summary: A YOUNG BOY WATCHING THE CEREMONY VARIOUS OF PEOPLE SINGING AND DANCING DURING CEREMONY
- Embargoed: 14th January 2017 05:10
- Keywords: Yemanja Brazil Rio de Janeiro Copacabana Umbanda Candomble
- Location: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
- City: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
- Country: Brazil
- Topics: Religion/Belief,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA0045EXSNR7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Hundreds of worshippers gathered at Rio de Janeiro's iconic Copacabana Beach on Thursday (December 29) to pay tribute to Yemanja, the Afro-Brazilian queen of the sea.
Every year followers of the Candomble and Umbanda religions dress in white to celebrate Yemanja by singing and dancing around her statue set up on the beach.
They offer flowers, letters and beauty products as gifts for the sea goddess, who they believe will bless them in return.
The gifts are put inside little makeshift boats and sent out into the ocean for Yemanja, who is also the patron deity of fishermen and shipwreck survivors.
Organisers call on worshipers to avoid polluting the ocean with bottles and other plastic objects. They typically use boats made of natural materials and the most common offerings are white flowers.
Devotees also pour wine and champagne over the Yemanja figure as an offering, but are asked to properly discard of the bottles.
Worshipers said they hoped the orishas, or spirits, bring a prosperous and peaceful new year.
"In 2017, no matter what the orisha (the spirit) decides, no matter what we think, I hope people find love, respect each other and respect everyone's religious creeds," Rosangella Oliveira said.
Yemanja is one of the deities of the Yoruba religion and has become prominent among Afro-American cultures.
The tradition was brought over to Brazil by African slaves hundreds of years ago.
Every year worshippers write letters to Yemanja with their wishes for the New Year.
"I hope it is a better year with less theft and that the orishas (spirits) can enlighten the minds of those who govern us so they can govern our land, our Brazil and our Rio de Janeiro better," said Manoel Pereira, another devotee.
Organisers hold the Yemanja Day celebrations before the last day of the year to avoid clashing with the New Year's celebrations, which can draw millions to Copacabana beach for the fireworks show.
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