Thursday, May 7, 2009

OMOLU BY: Brenda Castro


Candomblé and its Orishas

"Candomblé is a holistic system, comprised of culinary arts, apothecary, the art of placement, dealing with colors, visual arts, music, poetry, oral literature, and dance" (Ana Scott). Candomblé is a well known religion in Brazil, although the practices evolve from Africa. Candomblé is not necessary perform, but is sacred and endeavour. Known as a national practice in Brazil, Candomblé is significant by marking the state of Bahia. Known for almost 300-400 years Candomblé is still practice today. Consisting of significant amount of Orishas such as Oxossi, Ossain, Logum Ede, and many others, every single Orisha has its significance, purpose and story. A well known Orisha that that is still practice today is Omolu. Omolu is known as the first biological warrior. Known as the healer of the incurable disease such as smallpox. It is significant to note that Omolu can either cure smallpox or cause it when he is offended. Omolu is son of Nanã and is represented with the face and body covered in veils, robes and straw. When it comes to the representation of dance Omolu is represented with shaking convulsions, broken hearted, and great suffering. Omolu is known as the one that miraculous survived a wound and within his dance he shows the world what it is to carry on a suffrage.

Life of Omolu

Sacred Leaves of Candomble by By Robert A. Voeks gives a vivid description of who was Omolu. Omolu was descended from Nanã, Nanã who is the mother of all deities. Known for being charming and nurturing with children,although it is ironic how she abandoned both of her sons Omolu and Oxumaré. In the picture below the representation shows Nanã with both Omolu and Oxumaré abandoned at sea. The video shows a dance fron Nanã that is use in the Camdomblé religion showing a relief to the suffrage of mothers.


Omolu was born before his brother Oxumaré. Oxumaré is known as the one with perfect balance and harmony, representing the rainbow and serpant. As shown in the picture and video below.

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Soon after Omolu was born he was contaminated by smallpox. Not being able to take care of him his mother Nanã abandoned him to his luck inside a basket on the seashore. Fortunately the Orisha of the ocean, Yemanjá was passing by and rescue Omolu from his destiny.Yemanjá is the mother of the sea and sometimes portrayed as a mermaid, as shown in the picture below.

Omolu was therefore raised by the sea. However, he remained with horrible deformed skin and scars. Due to the fact that Omolu was not a presentable figure to society, Yemanjá sewed him a hood made out of fiber in order to prevent the deformation to be seen.

The reason why Omolu is all covered is for the fact that he is deformed.

After a period of time Omolu showed that he indeed had attribute of knowledge and understanding of human nature and diseases. When Yemanjá noticed that Omolu had acquired great potential power to understanding, she suggested to reconcile with his mother Nanã. Nanã is known for having the power to understand human life, and as a result Omolu inherited this power. As consequence of Yemanjá’s suggestion for reconciliation with Nanã and Omolu, Omolu became known as the master of the land. By being raised by Yemanjá he received the ownership of the ocean, and by being the son of Nanã he was known as the owner of land, leading him to be known as a counseling doctor. Omolu is therefore known as the one with the knowledge of humankind, understanding of both destruction and creativity. What is significant about Omolu is the fact that no matter how much fear others have toward his deform body, how lonely he feels, or how bad he feels, he always does what is best. He understands human nature and does not go around spreading smallpox just for fun.
The following pictures show the outrageous consequences of smallpox, this gives one the idea of why Omolu was always seen covered.


Omolu has the power to control its followers; he can either cause fear or prevent fear. Many people are afraid that just by the mentioning of his name or an insult to his powers will result infection of smallpox by Omolu. Omolu has the knowledge to prevent disease or contain it. Although he has understanding of herbs and medicine, he is not as powerful as the Orisha Ossain. Ossain is able to cure the person from the disease, while Omolu is only able to control it. Omolu’s day for worship is on Mondays, mostly done with food offerings. The food offering consists of Omolu’s favorite food such as rice, black beans, black eyed peas, and roasted corn. Male goats and pigs are some of his favorite animals that are sacrificed as well. Omolu is known within his brown, black, and white colors. His colors are a significance to his life, and suffrage that’s why the colors are dark. Omolu is very easy, outgoing, and is able to communicate with others very easily. Although it may seem unreasonable that Omolu can communicate well with others, due to the fact that he brings fear to his followers and non followers, he is able to understand the human nature.


Omolu is well known for surviving suffrage and understanding the human life. When Omolu dances he shows the struggle of walking, as a way to represent the struggle of life. Omolu moves as if he is about to fall, carrying a weight of pain on his feet he shows struggle. The movement of lifting up the torso and reversing it represents a way of spreading out the disease in this case smallpox. When he bends his knees, with his arms on his back and shaking with a massive fever it shows as if he is lifting the weight of the earth above his head with such pain and falls down to let the fever cool down. His movements are not dangerous, is just that it requires strength and flexibility to bend down without ever breaking. Omolu is always in controlled of not spreading the disease, but his dance is characterized as if he is. The dance itself is a process that creates relaxation, and healing. Is significant to note that Omolu attributes different parts of his body to show suffrage. Starting with his feet, moving next to different parts such as the eyes, the mouth, the wound in his hand, and his heart. With his index finger he shows the wound in the palm, of his hand. With his hand he slides down the limp of the bottom to show the ugliness of his face, and his deform body. He then shows the pain he feels in his heart, by making a reference using his hand. Omolu then gets his two hands and starts hitting himself from left to right on his back. It suppose to represent the hardships of life and how is not so easy to deal with it, and its consequences.

The following is some examples of Omolu's dance movements




By: Brenda Castro

Works Cited

Sacred Leaves of Candomble by Robert A. Voeks,%20Death%20&%20Beauty.pdf,M1


  1. This was a beautiful entry. Very moving. You connected with Obaluaiye. Work on that grammar. The word you were looking for instead of 'sufferage' was 'suffering.' 'Sufferage' means the right to vote. I know, weird false cognate.