Rio De Janeiro: Hundreds of people gathered at the iconic Copacabana Beach, in Rio de Janeiro, on Saturday (December 28), to pay tribute to Iemanja, the goddess of the sea.
Every year worshipers, dressed in white, gather here to pay tribute to Iemanja by singing hymns and bringing flowers, letters, and beauty products.
The offerings are put on little makeshift boats and sent out to sea, with the faith they will find their way to the goddess. Iemanja is also the patron deity of fishermen and shipwreck survivors.
Professor Rosangela Garcia, who built and brought her own prayer boat, described the sensation the ritual gives her.
"There is a force, a huge love. It's a lot of affection, an extremely strong vibration. It's really a deep feeling!" Garcia said.
The celebration attracted hosts of devout followers who came to pay their respects and make offerings to Iemanja.
Miriam De Oya, a practising priestess who follows Iemanja, said that the gathering was proof of the devotees' faith.
"We show that we are a faithful people. Our people are resistant. We have love to give. The proof of that is here," Oya said.
The ritual at Copacabana beach is now on its eleventh edition. Again, this year organizers and city officials held the Iemanja Day celebrations before the last day of the year so they would not clash with the New Year's celebrations when two million plus flood Copacabana to see fireworks.
The tradition was brought over to Brazil by African slaves hundreds of years ago. Iemanja is one of the deities of the Yoruba religion and has become prominent among many Afro- American cultures.