CESE welcomes Iyá Márcia de Ogum to internal training to promote Inter-religious Dialogue and demystify Candomblé

During Black November, CESE welcomed Iyá Márcia de Ogum, a ialorixá from Ilê Axé Ewá Olodumare, to an internal training session about Candomblé aimed at promoting inter-religious dialogue and demystifying certain points related to this African origin religion.  In an afternoon full of light and affectionate exchange, Iyá Márcia spoke about several topics related to her religion.  She talked about the various way the terreiro, or worship house, is organized, its organizational hierarchy and functions, the meanings of certain expressions and so on.

She deplored the cultural appropriation and disrespect her religion suffers.  “They picked up our popcorn and took it out of the worship houses to “do a cleansing” whenever they wanted. There is no procedure within Candomblé in which someone is cleansed only through popcorn. It’s a complement within a process, but it would never do this all on its own,” she explained.

On the other hand, Iyá Márcia noted that she feels fulfilled when she promotes inter-religious dialogue.  “I’m happy when I have the opportunity to demystify the mistaken information people have, which they’ve defended for a long time.  When I can embrace someone and call them my brother or sister.  Because this gladdens my heart.”  And to close she declared that Candomblé is not only a religion – it’s a cultural legacy.

“A cultural legacy that we have inherited from our ancestry.  We can see the presence of that cultural legacy in every moment of our lives, when we hear music, when we dance, in the colours of a person’s clothes, in the braids of their hair, which come from black people and demonstrate the escape routes of enslaved people, in the cooking, in the turbans.  Candomblé is a Brazilian religion of African origin. It came from Africa, with my ancestors.  My queens, my kings, who were enslaved here,” she concluded.  After Iyá Márcia’s talk the team had a great debate.

Pastor Sônia Mota, CESE’s Executive Director, celebrated the hybrid meeting, where some of the team participated remotely and others in person, following safety and hygiene protocols.  “It’s really good and significant to come back and occupy our auditorium with such a necessary debate, one that will contribute to strengthening our position in favour of inter-religious dialogue.  We have come together here to learn, dialogue, break down preconceptions and show, in practice, how different religions can dialogue.”

Bianca Daébs, CESE’s Advisor for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Dialogue, noted that the debate was taking place during Black Consciousness month and was allied to several causes.  “To combat racism, to resume sisterhood, to construct a culture of peace. This is part of a daily transformation, and education is part of this process. If we come together, get to know one another, we will generate more respect.  We will weave bonds of affection.”