Candomble, Salvador da Bahia
To understand a little bit more Salvador and its 'povo', please read something about Orisha, Condomblè and the slevary before visiting this palce.....
Like Capoeira Orisha was the answer of the slavery to the proibithion of the portuguese to practice the traditional african religion: the african transformed the catholic Saints in Orishas, that were the mixture of afican and catholic divinity.
In Salvador there is lake with in the middle the statue of Orishas, very nice in the light of the night.
A Candomble is a ritual with African origins, making offerings to a particular god or baptizing a young devotee. There is usually a patriach or matriach presiding over the ritual.
I visited a Candomble session in Salvador. It was to baptize a 12-year-old boy. While I did not always understand the deep meanings, this was briefly what happened.
Men were in charge of the complicated drum-beats (sometimes with hands for a god, and other times with drum-sticks for another god) and provided the main singer. They chanted in the Yoruba language. Some women and men danced slowly in tiny movements in a circle in the yard. Younger devotees danced with their backs hunched and heads hung low. The floor of the yard was strewn with a type of leaves.
The dancing, singing and drumming went on for hours. The 12-year-old boy was brought out first covered with white dots to immune him against illnesses. Later, he was brought out again, covered with yellow, pink and blue dots. We were to throw leaves at him as he passed by.
Slowly, the devotees entered into a trance and the main matriarch of the event started hopping on one leg, which meant she was possessed by the god Ossain who was painted on a picture as hopping on one leg.
These entranced were watched over and guided by mentors (who were not in a trance), just in case they got a little lost or started grabbing their jewellery and hurt themselves. Then, with their eyes closed, the entranced swooped out of the yard one by one, somehow knowing where the open gate was.
After a very long wait, they returned with very colourful costumes, with bright blue, yellow, red, sequined-dresses and head-gears which had beads or shells draped across their faces. They held implements on their hands like axes and metal-snakes.
The ritual stretched way past 2am, I reckoned. We left around 1.30am. No way they faked this for tourists.
When the Catholic priests attempted to convert the Indians and African slaves, they did not achieve full success. The Indians and African slaves developed their own form of folk Catholicism, using elements of their Indian practices and African gods with similar properties to represent the things taught to them about Catholicism.
For example, African gods or ‘orixas’ like Oxala, Iemanja, Ogun, Xango are represented respectively by Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary, Saint Anthony and Saint George.