From the Brazilian Correio da Bahia
Correio da Bahia
Agnes Mariano

Immaculate white was the vestment of men and women, candles, ribbons, flowers, tablecloths, flags, and foods. Yesterday, the Gantois terreiro dressed entirely in white to paya homage to Oxalá (Orishanlá; Obatalá), the great father. The celebrations started on Friday with the Águas de Oxalá [Waters of Oxalá] ritual, but yesterday was the first day of the public celebration. Devotees and guests spent a day at the terreiro, beginning with a full breakfast and lunch, organizing all the events for the great feast that took place last night, starting around 8 PM. According to some of the memebrs of the terreiro, yesterday’s ritual marks the beginning of the cycle of celebrations hosted by the terreiro that last until December 3.

After having closed their doors for some years, the Ilé Iyá Omi Axé Iyamassé, better known as the terreiro of Gantois, the oldest of Brazil’s terreiros, it restarted its activities in June of this year. Since then, some celebrations have already taken place; primarily Nanã’s in July and Obaluaê’s in August, but “now it is that the Odum [festival] of the house starts”, explain ogã Edson de Assis and Yomar, long time member of the terreiro. According to the members, another detail that makes the celebration a special one is the fact that the new ialorixá [iyalorisha] of the house – Mae Carmem, the youngest daughter of Mae Menininha of Gantois- is ordained to Oxaguiã [Oshaogiyán] (young Oxalá), the same orixá that was homaged yesterday.

It was a family affair, where a dedicated and gentle battalion of filhas-de-santo [daughters of the saints] worked arduously all day yesterday preparing the terreiro for the evening’s celebration, receiving the guests and the numerous devotees that arrived. Everyone who attended was immediately invited to savor the spoils that were laid out on a table satiated with delicious puddings, couscous, cakes, pastries, sweets, breads and juices of all sorts. While this took place, Mae Carmem, her children [om’orishá]and other terreiro members conducted private rituals [in preparation for the events that followed]. The secretary of Culture and Tourism, Pablo Gaudenzi, and Dinha of acarajé were among the many friends of the house who passed by for breakfast yesterday. Some politicians were also expected for lunch.

“The sensation one gets is that the house is opening, that everybody is together and that this union makes us strong. The hope is that all runs well, and that we just progress,” commented ogã Edinho. For Yomar, yesterday’s celebration meant one very special: “It is the beginning of a new age. Water represents the life and the Waters of Oxalá have a purifying effect,” explained Yomar. For those who may be interested in attending, Gantois’ public celebrations, which always begin around 7:30 PM, will be the following: Oxalufan – October 6; Ogum – October 7; Omolu – October 14; Xangô – October 20; Iroko – October 27; Exu – October 28; Ibeji – October 30. The terreiro is located in Altos de Gantois.

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