The Mother of All

 

Here the English translation of my article for www.festivals.ch:

There is a sleepy small town on the board of the river Paraguaçu, in the Brasilian state Bahia. Due to the fact that it is the last town on the river that can be passed by ships, it was a important slave trade market. Today the town of significance to followers of Candomblé. The term Candomblé describes a variety of religious groups of african heritage. The gods, languages and traditions have been inherited from the respective region of the slaved and has been mingled with new rituals an partially catolizism, which should teoretically have been forced on all arriving slaves.

 

One of the most spread Candomblé traditions has it´s roots within the west african Yoruba tribes (today mostly located in western Nigeria). The songs of the ceremonies are today still sung in Yoruba language. I travelled to Cachoera to visit a celebration to worship of the Orixá (gods/natural forces) of Yemanyá. Yemanyá is seen as the mother of the whole humanity as well as the protector of the fisherman and sailors. She is supposed to be within all rivers, lakes and seas. Each orisha is associated with certain colors and drum rythms. The colors of Yemanyá are blue and white, most visitors are wearing them.

Acompanied by hypnotic drum rythms the different groups of belivers move towards the water, dancing with cheerful faces. Some of the followers are in trance, the belief says, that certain rituals cause chosen members to be used by the gods as a medium to connect the spiritual world with the material world. Baskets with flowers, cake and cachaça (brasilian sugar cane liquor) are balancing on the heads. Once the belivers reach the board of the rivers, small boats are mounted to set off to the river and devote the goods to Yemanyá. Once the boats arrive back, they are cheered by the crowds.

At some point, the religious ceremonies tranforms into a samba party. A traditional samba band with the youngest member at the age of around 70 plays with tabourine, guitar and drums songs, everybody knows. Young, old, gay, transsexual, white, black, Pai-de-Santo/Mae-de-Santo (priest/ priestess), tourists, everybody dances with everybody. The best dancers of all, are the priests, the element of dance is part of every religious ceremony.

Candomblé is a deeply life embracing religion, the concept of good and evil, as known in chritian influenced societies, does not exist .

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