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Yoruba Religious Practices

Luiz Santos | Brazil & Nigeria

Ifa Gates/Nigeria: Ifa is the oracle of the Yoruba religious traditions. His initiates can read the past and predict the future.

Every year in Brazil, in the middle of the night on the 2nd of February, whole families leave their houses adorned in white and blue to pay homage to Yemanjá, Goddess of the Sea. Perfumes, mirrors, combs and flowers are cast into the sea so that this beautiful, vain, and powerful woman will smile upon the faithful. On their way to the sea they greet each other with embraces, wishes of good luck, or simply a glance.
Months later in August, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, life follows much the same path. Along the banks of the Osun River, in Nigeria, the sons and daughters Osun, the goddess of fertility, lift up their voices full of spirit to reach up to the mother of freshwater. From this point forth, infertile women will bear the children of old men and the houses shall be filled with life, unfolding lives, bringing happiness and rising to the mission of maintaining the flow of the river’s waters.

The project The Book of the Gods was part of a master’s degree in documentary photography I studied in London in 2007. The project expanded for about four years and, as part of my researches, took to Brazil in a number of occasions. I also travelled to Nigeria, a Country that influences Brazil enormously in his religious history - notably in the state of Bahia.

There are many other aspects of the influences of African religions in the New World. Santeria, practised in Cuba and the US, and Voo Doo (or Vodum), well spread in Haiti, are examples of this presence.

On my side I was appointed, during a Candomblé (a Brazilian version) to serve Oxóssi, the Orixá (or Orissa) warrior.

Luiz Santos

00 44 (0) 7733266863


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