Latest Winners

Jan-Feb 2021: Bel Woodhouse

Mar-Apr 2021: Michael Kompanik




Please login to vote.
Sunday, 28 April 2013

Beads and Prayers: a Candomblé Ceremony in Brazil - Page 3

Written by Libba Hockley
  • Print
  • Email
  • AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Rate this item
(9 votes)


      After lunch, we watch a dance performed by the village children. The dancing associated with the Candomblé religion is crucial in the recognition of the deities. Through dance, the deity uses the chosen dancer’s body in order to communicate with other humans; dressed in green and red flowing skirts, the children bounce and slide, moving to the music. Bare feet slap against cool, hard tiles that layer the floor of the community house. Drums beat loudly in the background as small fingers reach out through the circling crowd, grab my hands and pull me in.  

      I step and sway my hips trying to match their movement. After all they’ve done—blessed me, led me, taught me, and fed me like their own community member—the least I can do is dance and try to make them proud of me. I step into their heartbeat. My arms hover over the children’s heads. My feet shuffle back and forth as a girl pulls me around in a circle of sweat. Body heat penetrates my skin, giving me energy and a desire to dance until my smile is as wide as theirs.

 I’m reminded of why we live: to love, to dance and to sweat with everyone, no matter how unfamiliar it seems. I’m reminded of what kind of pleasure and exuberance can come from living as simply as these Bahians. It makes me want to give to them, to the earth, and to myself. I want to give myself the power of belief. Their blessings, those songs, this dance connect me not only to the people of this land, but to the land itself. For the first time in my life, I experience a belief that resonates with my own.  

      As I stand in a circle with the locals of this village, listening to the sounds and songs of prayer coming from their mouths, swaying back and forth like a pendulum of people, something shifts within me. I believe so strongly in the natural world, in the power it has over the land and its inhabitants. These people live with the natural world: the dirt is their floor, the trees and mud are their walls, and the sun is their light. They rely so heavily on the natural world for survival and therefore respect and embrace it as a divine force. By praying to Iemanjá, goddess of the sea, or Oyu, goddess of wind, or Shango, god of fire and sky, natural forces become their gods and natural elements, their strength.  

      From mud huts built by hand, to hand-pressed manioc flour, to extracting plants’ healing properties, I experience these people blessing the offerings and sacrifices of the mineral and vegetable kingdoms. This belief system is right there in front of them, proving its existence and answering their prayers every day.  

      The natural world has been my spirituality, a belief as natural as the blood in my veins, but it has been hiding behind pressures and restraints. It is my own stubbornness for not wanting to give in to beliefs that are not mine: I felt I could not believe in something beyond me, that I could not look outside of myself and develop a relationship with a greater power.

      As we leave the community center, sweaty hairlines and tired legs, I feel a release, a letting go of doubt and disbelief, a giving in to possibility. I can’t quite imagine anything else this village can do to open my heart any further.


(Page 3 of 4)
Last modified on Wednesday, 01 May 2013

Search Content by Map


All Rights Reserved ©Copyright 2006-2021 inTravel Magazine®
Published by Christina's Arena, Inc.