The Sea Goddess’ Birthday, Feb 2nd, 2012

A friend and I went along the coast a little to the beach where a great deal  is said to happen on Imianja’s birthday – and so it proved.  After midnight we spent an interesting hour plus, wandering among groups  large and small, on the sand, most of their participants costumed in roomy satin gear with head caps or tied bandannas mostly white, too.  A couple of also had figures dressed in yellow, red and blue, and I hope soon to talk with someone who can explain a significance I sensed and some of the things I am curious about.  My friend Sally commented how calm and  focused people were.  There was a lot of soft drum beating, and frequently tiny little bells ringing in  some kind of ritual over the boats that people had built and brought to the beach to be loaded with the goddess’ birthday gifts before being floated out to sea.  In addition to things I have often seen on the beach and written about – fruit, vegetables, pop corn, blue and white flowers, ribbons, beads, silvery glittery things, there were often mirrors ( she is known to be vain) small bottles of perfume,  meringues, and lots and lots of candles, blue or white.  Preparations we saw included honey being either added to the boat or poured over what had been placed in there.  We heard group members checking to make sure this and that item had been added – someone had definitely put in a small amount of money – in one of the boats I spied a cheap watch.  Wonder if it was going, and if it still is.   Most boats were made of styrofoam sheeting sealed with blue tape.  Some were elaborately edged and trimmed with tiny blue beads or fabric trim.  You can see some of these things in the photos I took for which the following is the link:

So I got to bed after 1-30.  I woke and went down to the local Carrasco beach a few hours later, at 7am, and goodness, the beach was strewn with wreckage from the night’s activvity.  I can’t tell you how many dead chickens were spread out along the beach, most of them headless (we saw none anywhere on the other beach the night before)   No one in their right mind will go swimming in this bay for at least a week, maybe more, stomach churning!  I took photos of wreckage sites, and a disturbing thing was the amount of plastic – which of course includes the ubiquitous styrofoam.  I truly wish all plastic was rapidly biodegradable – there was a lot of it around.  I met a neighbour walking his dog and he made it clear how angry it all made him,  saying something like ‘it’s all phony anyway – this stuff belongs in brasil – they’re just stupidly copying it here.  I hate it’.  He has a point about the plastic, and the myriad of candles, but whether he’s correct about the validity of this, um, belief system, which has swelled in recent years, I’m not so sure. 

Anyway enjoy the photos.

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