A taste of Lemanjá

We took a quick trip to the beach to see what Raul had told us was a must sea event. He mentioned something about candles and that it was just up the Rambla on the beach. We later found out it was a festival for people to provide offerings for the water goddess, Lemanjá. So, around 10:30 or so we set out.

As soon as we made it past the American Embassy, we could see that there were throngs of people hanging out near the beach. We walked up to the beach and it mostly seemed like aftermath of small boats washing ashore and hundreds of holes with lit candles inside. It was quite scenic and we were pretty happy with just that. Still we were disappointed that we had missed out on the festival. About the time we gave up hope, a group of people dressed in all white carrying a boat passed by us headed for the beach. As it turns out, the event isn’t over at all, groups pay tribute all night long.

The beach littered with candle divits and throngs of people

Generally, groups where about 20 people all dressed in white, some with tiki torches, some with candles and 6 or so people carrying a small boat (not because it’s heavy but because it’s a ritual). In front of the group, is someone ringing bells that sound something like sleigh bells. This group heads down the stairs to the beach and after some preparation (we were too far away to see what exactly) they lit the candles/tiki torches on the shore (sometimes there was even a candle on the boat) and waded out into the water about 500 yards to send the offerings out to sea. The wind was blowing out to sea, so the boats that had candles and sails provided an impressive display as you could see them far out into the sea.

Raul was right, this was a pretty impressive spectacle. I’m glad we decided to follow his suggestion and head out to observe.