December 8th is a very important day in Brazil for followers of African-based religions Umbanda and Candomblé. It is the day of Oxum (also known as Oshun), one of the important entities of these religions. Today we are going to learn more about these African religions and beliefs which are so significant in Brazil. And if you want to learn more about religion in Brazil, we have the Dica just for you.
Who is she?
Oxum is one of the most famous and worshiped deities in the African religions, along with Iemanjá. She is the goddess of divinity, femininity, fertility, beauty and love. She is also known as the deity that represents the rivers, and that is why the Osun River, in Nigeria, is named after her. This deity also had an important role in the creation of humanity. Olodumare (God) sent 17 orixas (deities) to Earth to being life. Oxum was the only woman among those 17. The others, all male, tried to revive and give life to the Earth, just as Olodumare had instructed, but didn’t manage to do so. So, they asked for Oxum’s assistance, and she agreed to help them. Using her powers, represented mostly by the water, she brought life back to Earth and humanity and other species into existence.
Oxum is very important, especially for women in these religions. As she represents fertility, many women ask Oxum to help them get pregnant, even when they are infertile. They also look for her when there is drought, as it controls the fresh water that helps to fertilize the fields.
Oxum Day Celebrations
Now that we know who Oxum is, let’s talk about how the African-based religions, Umbanda and Candomblé, celebrate the Day of Oxum. Not only in Rio de Janeiro, but also in several other cities in Brazil, the faithful get together to celebrate Oxum Day through meetings in the terreiros. Terreiros are the places that people gather to worship in these religions, and would be the equivalent of a church. There they pray, sing, play instruments and worship Oxum. There is also the preparation of offerings, which are then taken to places near waterfalls. These offerings consist of white or blue candles, flowers and fruits, which are very pleasing to Oxum. If you go to a terreiro on Oxum’s Day, you can say hi to people by using Oxum’s salutation: “Ora iê iê ô”.
Despite not being considered a holiday in itself, the day of Oshun is very important for people of this faith. Here we have selected one of the many prayers for Oxum, so that you can see how prayers for her are made:
“Senhora da beleza e fertilidade, cobre meus caminhos com beleza e amor, tornando minha vida mais fértil em todas as áreas. Não permitas que eu chore mais por amor, abençoa meu coração! Trazei suas bênçãos para minha vida, atenda meus pedidos (faça seu pedido aqui) para que eu encontre a beleza, a harmonia e a riqueza que somente a Senhora das Cachoeiras dá a seus filhos.”
“Lady of beauty and fertility, cover my paths with beauty and love, making my life more fertile in all areas. Don’t let me cry anymore for love, bless my heart! Bring your blessings into my life, answer my requests (place your request here) so that I find the beauty, harmony and richness that only the Lady of Waterfalls gives to her children.”
Oxum Day Ritual
Most people do some sort of ritual on the day of their orixa. We have selected one of Oxum’s rituals so you can do it at home on December 8th to celebrate this incredible deity, and share the faith of Brazilian people! Take a look at what you are going to need:
- Calendula or petals of a yellow rose
This is known as Oxum’s Bath. You must boil 1 liter of water, and then add the rosemary and chamomile. Take off the heat and add the calendula or the yellow petals and cover the infusion with a plate. After 5 minutes, you can pick up this solution and take to your bath with you. After cleaning yourself, throw it from the neck down. Many people say they feel great after it!
What about you? Do you often celebrate religious festivities? Tell us in the comments what is your favorite religious holiday! And if you want to get to know more about Brazil, and its culture, you can always study portuguese with us!
Ora iê iê ô!
Rio & Learn.