Candomblé is intertwined not only with Afro-Brazilian ethnicity but also with the more recent history of changes in Brazilian cities’ social fabric – particularly that of Rio de Janeiro which saw a mass migration as the capital of the new Republic. There are several ways visitors can learn more about the rituals and beliefs that form Candomblé, despite it being relatively impenetrable for many years. One way to see the ways in which practitioners worship is to visit the Mercadão de Madureira in the Zona Norte. This market became the official sponsor of the New Year religious procession after a fire destroyed it in 2001 and it was rebuilt within a year. As a token of thanks, one local merchant dedicated a 2-meter high statue of Lemanjá which is carried all the way to Copacabana Beach in the days preceding December 31st alongside more than 10,000 worshippers. The market itself is home to everything a Candomblista might need, including figurines, herbs, and ritual clothing. It is a fascinating glimpse into the day-to-day veneration of the orixás.
From Centro the best way to get there is to take the metro L2 to Vicente de Carvalho and from there the BRT to Mercadão de Madureira.
Elissa is a freelance writer based in Brazil. With 5 years’ experience working for the News UK print and online publications in drizzly London, she decided to move to Rio de Janeiro to write about the cidade maravilha, mostly whilst sitting on the beach.