Today February 2nd, is Yemanja day in Brazil. Yemanja is the honored mother Goddess of the sea and all living things. She is Yoruban Orisha and one of the most celebrated deities honored in the African diaspora. She is also one of the main figures we see in Brazilian art, especially in Samba and can often be found in samba music, dance and costumes. Her colors are silver and blue and her number is 7 for the seven seas.
She is one of the main inspirations of Samba de roda songs, as she is the Sereia/Siren or Mermaid, beautiful and inspiring to the fisherman and people working on the docks.
Many Capoeira and Samba songs reference Yemanja, asking her to protect them at sea, to guild them, to let the tide take them home and are a means of serenading her as their muse. It is said that the root of this stems from the journey from Africa to Brazil.
African peoples from Nigeria prayed to Yemanja to help them endure the treacherous journey to Brazil.
In samba dance, she is celebrated as the queen of the sea/Rainha do Mar, and often costumes are made in her likeness as seen in the Carnaval photo above.
Yemanja represents the element of water and is the essence of life.
Today thousands of people in Brazil are taking offerings to the sea of flowers, perfume and letters asking for blessings of love.
Many people also practice Candomblé an Afro-Brazilian religion and will sing and dance in honor of Yemanja today. Today you will hear her salutation: Odoya in Yoruba language, often sung and said as people go visit the sea. Samba de roda, will be happening in many places today, as people will celebrate by singing and dancing together on the beach, streets and terreiros (houses of Candomblé).
Today we can also honor Yemanja by being mindful of our water essence and our connection to nature. We can also honor Yemanja by cleaning the beaches, being mindful of water use and respecting the earth and all living things starting with ourselves and how we treat others. Odoya!
Check out these Yemanja songs!
The Samba Blog