Destination Rio de Janeiro, the third travel to the former capital of Brazil.
Rituals at the Day of Iemanja, Goddess of the seas and oceans.
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Day 4, 21.00
In the afternoon of day four, I could take it easy, and prepare myself for another visit to Lapa, for the night shows. I was not the only one; another four of our group chose to refresh themselves. This time, we were lucky to have water again and to take showers in the improvised shower containers. We were also able to take some more rest, to lie down on the comfortable mattresses. Why not, when you have to be very patient with the girls who took a lot of time to have themselves prepared for the night?
We took the bus to Lapa at ten pm. The bus was rather crowded by the students, students from all Brazilian regions. I took a seat next to a student from Maranhão. She was very talkative and asked me dozens of questions. For me, when I reveal about my home country, it is obvious how people change their attitude and start to ask me questions about anything of my home country. Sometimes, I tell them that I am from Belgium. Not a lie even, because I have lived and worked in Belgium, in Louvain and in Wavre, before I moved to Brazil. For me, it appears that both the Netherlands and Belgium have a good reputation among Brazilians. It also appears to me that Belgium sounds less familiar to them than the Netherlands. Not very surprising, when considering the Brazilian history in which the Dutch occupation of Northeast Brazil had played a significant role.
The bus ride took about half an hour. The bus driver was driving very fast, we sometimes jumped literally from our seats. I said goodbye to the student. She hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. This is normal here, and quite uncommon for Europeans. I cannot imagine to be hugged and kissed by a Dutch student, after a nice chat on a train. We might be very fortunate with a handshake, and extremely fortunate with her phone number. Some days later, I met the Brazilian girl again. She immediately recognized me and gave me a hug. She gave me her email address. During my stay in Rio, I gained many email addresses and cell phone numbers from students.
Juliana, Mariana and I initially wandered around without a clear purpose, we were looking around what was going on there. Our attention was caught by a large, round tent. In fact not a real tent, but a canvas cover. We heard sounds of drums and other percussion instruments. We noticed people standing in a closed circle, forming a human circle. There was light for dozens of candles. We noticed dozens of veils, and vases with fresh roses. We became very curious and approached the tent. Only then, we started to realize what was going on there.
A woman in a bright blue robe wandered around, she sang a ritual song. She went along the people in the circle. The people were holding each other’s hands. They seemed to whisper prayers. The woman seemed to stroll around like a stressed ant. She poured some water, some kind of holy water. Suddenly, someone grabbed my arm by one of my friends of the dormitory, and I was dragged into the circle. Now I was part of the human circle. Despite the fact that I was not familiar with the rituals, it was not too hard for me to follow the rituals. What kind of rituals? The rituals for Iemanjá, the candomblé goddess of the seas and oceans. Her catholic image was Our Lady of Glory. In the past, African slaves weren’t allowed to worship their gods, but in turn they linked their gods to catholic saints. Goddess Iemanjá, that’s why the woman wore a blue robe. Rio de Janeiro is one of the centers of candomblé, and slightly differs from candomblé in Northeast Brazil.
The rituals were continued. We heaved with the percussion rhythm and worshiped Iemanjá, the catholic Maria. This went on for another half an hour. It was already eleven-thirty when the rituals come to an end. We learned that this ritual was about to be repeated every night. On 2 February is the Day of Iemanjá, with a special ceremony. It would be very interesting to witness this special ceremony. Another aspect of the rich Brazilian culture.
Styrofoam boats used to release them in the sea, on 2 February.
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom © 2007, 2014