On February 2nd. Iemanjá, the Goddess of the Sea is honoured by hundreds of people in the seaport of Rio Vermelho, just outside Salvador de Bahia. Ritual dances are performed and offerings collected before they are taken to the sea and presented to the water.
Iemanjá is the Goddess of the Water, the mother of all the gods in the Umbanda religion of Brazil. She is offered flowers, gifts, perfume and rice which are taken to the open sea in fishingboats and than tossed into the water. Iemanjá is the mother and the giver of life. She rules all the seas, oceans, lakes and naturally is the patron of sailors and fishermen. Being the great mother Iemanjá also rules women and pregnancies. Umbanda is associated with the practice of Candomblé, a kind of Macumba, sometimes referred to as a voo-doo like ritual. Macumba came to Brazil with the slave ships from Africa and was first practiced around Salvador, where the ships landed, as Candomblé. The merging of Christianity and Macumba resulted in a set of deities, Gods of the Candomblé, with characteristics of both religions. Thus Iemanjá is St. Anne, or patron of the sea, and she is pictured as light skinned, with fair hair and wearing white and blue, the colors of Umbanda.