Festa de Iemanja | Salvador, Bahia

Festa de Iemanja (Festival of Yemaya) is an annual celebration dedicated to the mother of all and mother of all Orisha, Iemanj that takes place on February 2nd in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

The celebration takes place over 3 days, beginning in the late evening on February 1st. During this time Candomblé practitioners, a vivid mix of Afro-Brazilians, and others come together to celebrate through music and dance in the streets surrounding Casa de Mãe in the Rio Vermleho neighborhood.

Throughout carnival style parades move through the streets with dancers and bombastic music all in the name of Iemanja (also known as Yemaja, Yemanja, Yemoya, Yemaya), who is referred to most in Salvador, Bahia as Mãe or mother.

The celebration continues as the night passes into February 2nd. Devotees, or those who are open to ancient Afro-spirituality practices, place offerings of flowers, fruits, and vegetables in large baskets as gifts of love for Iemanja.

As the sun rises, large baskets are passed along to awaiting boats on the beach side of Casa de Mãe. Boat upon boat receive the offerings before they head out into the Atlantic Ocean to be offered to Iemanja.

Along the beach as the boats go back and forth to sea, devotees are flocking to the water during sunrise to leave gifts for Iemanja.  The sounds of drumming, singing, chanting, and performance demonstrating a deep ever-presence of love for Iemanja.  The entire vibe can be seen as intoxicating to some. 

As the sun appears individuals and groups perform rituals. Candomblé priests perform cleansings with word, Black spirit energy, sacred herbs, and drumming circles; all connecting directly to West African roots.

The celebration then gears up for large parades full of Salvador flavor, powered by Blackness with everyone wearing shades of blue, the colors that represent Iemanja.

As the day goes, the crowd changes but the love and honor stay the same. Everyone is present because they know the power of Iemanja, celebrating still well into the night.