Uruguay: Paying Homage to the Old Gods
Residents of Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, gather to celebrate the festival of the sea goddess Yemanjá.
Ana Maria Robles is a veterinary medic whose passion is photography. “I like to know the stories and the diversity of ways of life of people. We may look different, but in essence, we are one,” she says.
Every year on the second day of February, a large crowd gathers at Ramirez beach in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo, to celebrate the festival of Yemanjá, an African sea goddess who protects fishermen, symbolizes motherhood and owns all the sea’s fruits and riches.
Many people bring offerings to thank her and ask for her blessing and protection in the year ahead. Some of these are placed on small altars lit with candles, others are put into small floats that are then released onto the sea.
Text and photographs by Ana Maria Robles
At Ramirez beach, thousands of people gather to celebrate their annual tribute to Yemanjá.
Candombé music, an inheritance of Montevideo’s Afro-Uruguayan population, plays throughout the day. Dancers moves in circles, searching for the trance that will help them connect with Yemanjá.
A woman prays at one of the many small altars assembled on the beach.
Many people dress up specially for the day in robes of white or light blue, Uruguay’s national colors.
Although originally a festival of Uruguay’s African population, Yemanjá is now celebrated by people from all parts of Montevidean society.
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