Thursday, December 30, 2010

Shopping for Iemanjá

Luiz and I spent our first New Year’s Eve together on Copacabana beach watching what were certainly the most spectacular fireworks I had ever seen.  The year was 2000, the turn of the millennium.  It was some party.

Unbeknownst to me Luiz had two gold wedding bands in his pocket.  After midnight, when the fireworks ended, we walked to the edge of the sea. Luiz stepped in and jumped seven waves.  Then he took the rings, submerged them in the water, and asked Iemanjá (goddess of the sea) for her blessing.  I don’t know exactly what he asked, but it appears we’ve been doing pretty well ever since.

Friday night we will be returning to the sea at midnight, this time at Itaipú beach.  Luiz is preparing an offering for Iemanjá.  It will include many of her favorite items: white flowers, perfume, a looking glass, a hair brush – all arranged in a little blue boat lit with a candle.  Luiz will set it to float away, to thank Iemanjá for all she has brought us.

We picked up the little boat a few days ago at a spiritualist shop in centro Niterói.  They also had a package with perfume, mirror, brush, etc. that forms the beauty items core of the offering.

On Tuesday we got up at 5:00 a.m. to go to the Rio flower market and get some flowers.  Luiz had a list and his mother (who has her own year-end ritual offerings) asked him to pick a few things up for her as well.

The place was a sea of white flowers.  There were countless vendors with white gladiolas, a favorite NYE flower that will be sold from nearly every street corner in Copacabana on Friday and into the night.  Residents and tourists alike will be taking their flower offerings to the sea in honor of Iemanjá.

Next year, 2011, the principal deity for the year will be Oxun, mother of fresh water, queen of the waterfalls.  Her color as known in the Candomblé religion is yellow.  So Luiz bought a few yellow flowers as well for him and his mother.  It will be a good opportunity to check in with Oxun, as the year gets underway.

We will be staying at the house this weekend and I will be away from my computer.  I promise to return with photos of our NYE celebration and Luiz’s modest gift to one very special Orixá. 

Happy New Year.  (I just ended 2010 by posting my 500th post.)


Linds said...

Beautiful story Jim!
Happy New Year! (I hope the beach at Itaipu isn't as much madness as Copa... jeez that is SOME party, you're right)

Have a great evening!

Fiona said...

That is a really great story. I am glad that you shared about that New Years eve tradition and in such a beautiful and personal way. It is a great one to learn about. I have seen the beach at Santos on New Years day with its stories of the night before strewn across the sand and thought it was magical and strange.

Gil and Ray said...


I loved your description of your beginning with Luiz and the seven waves :)
Very interesting about the Candomble traditions. We are not too familiar with it in Sao Paulo and not having the Ocean in the city we never saw the offerings being set off to sea...only on TV.
Gil just made me laugh as he was imagining what would divers/archaeologists from the future be thinking when they start finding thousands of bottles of perfume in the bottom of the ocean...yes, he has a vivid imagination!
We would love to watch that some day. We need to play a New Years in Rio!
Thanks for sharing your awesome personal story.


Jana @ Paper plains said...

Ill end up repeating what everyone else said, but what a absolute beautiful story! I cant wait to see pictures of your New Years, it sounds magical.