Devotion to saints Cosme and Damião in Brazil has its main expression in the feast of September 26th. In some terreiros, the celebration lasts for a month, starting on September 27 (Cosme and Damião) and ending on October 25 (Crispim and Crispiniano).
On that date, children in the streets and neighborhoods of some cities in Brazil are offered, more present in the states of Bahia and Rio de Janeiro, with sweet bags and toys distributed in honor of the twin saints.
However, this tradition is not maintained only in Afro-Brazilian religions. The adherents of Catholicism also pay homage to and have devotion to these saints. It is common, for example, to have altars with images of Cosme and Damião, considered protectors of children, in rural areas.
These Entities are master spiritual beings in the concepts of Good e do Pure and that help a lot for the evolution of mediums*, teaching that the only way to take advantage in life is to be pure, just like children.
They also do not admit lying or evil, always bringing renewal and hope, reinforcing the pure and naive nature of human beings. It is the line that most captivates people by the innocent air it brings to the medium’s face. It is playing and laughing that they do wonderful work.
In the Umbanda and Candomblé terreiros, the feast of Cosme and Damião is celebrated with great abundance, joy, colorful decorations, sweets, cakes and fruits, all organized with a lot of axé and following the rite of spirituality.
In this celebration, the Caruru of Cosme and Damião cannot be missed, especially in the Northeast region. It’s a full house day, the children are partying, they are the main guests. At Umbanda, we learned that the first food must be served to seven children, this means feeding the seven brothers of Cosimo and Damião.
Children get fed up with sweets. Some places have a tradition of organizing groups made up of devout people, those who asked for a prayer and this was answered, mostly when it comes to health.
The groups move through streets, squares, houses, villages, Catholic churches, Umbanda and Candomblé terreiros, among other spaces where the date is celebrated. In this displacement, the children travel through areas of the city that they do not routinely attend.
However, the prejudice that exists with this celebration is very strong, today much more due to religious intolerance. They associate the act of offering with a curse rite, preventing even children from going to parties in the terreiros, or simply not receiving the sweets during this period.
The festive nature of Cosme and Damião’s Day introduces another temporality and changes the dynamics of social relations in communities, leading to an extraordinary circulation of things and people whose character is both playful and religious, focusing on the dimensions of reciprocity, of inter-religious relations and urban flows, mainly in peripheral areas where the most impoverished population is located.
Considering the intense religious transit of these saints, it is necessary to emphasize that, according to Catholic tradition, the twins Cosme and Damião would have been anargyric doctors, who performed miraculous cures voluntarily, practicing charity.
They added the wisdom of medicine to the healing through spirituality. In Afro-Brazilian religions, the requests made to the Eres are always granted, but in return, the person needs to do something for someone else, and if he does not fulfill the grace, it may not be achieved.
In the context of the African Diaspora in the Americas, the cult of twin saints was associated with the African cult of twinning, highlighting, in Brazilian lands, the hybridization between Cosme and Damião and the Ibejí orixás, protectors of the twins in the Yoruba tradition. In this articulation process, both the function and the image of Cosme and Damião were redefined.
The saints are now linked to childhood, considered protectors not only of the twins, but of children in general. In their statues, Cosimo and Damião acquired childlike forms and a new character was added to their image, like a miniature of the twins, positioned between them. With three brothers: Cosme, Damião and Doum, this is a popularized version of the Yoruba term Idowú, the name given to the brother born after the twins Ibejís.
Associated with orixás and infantilized, the saints became part of different religious pantheons, surpassing the limits of Catholicism, becoming present in African-based religions (Candomblé, Umbanda, Batuque, etc.).
It is a traditional recreational and religious practice in Brazil, which belongs to Brazilian popular culture, São Cosme and São Damião are the children’s patrons. As we have always had to hide our spirituality, our African orixás, as in the case of the Ibejís, had to take new forms and so it is with Cosme and Damião, twin deities, who oppose to the norms, seriousness and authority.
Enjoy the day of Cosimo and Damião, the energy, vibration and all the enthusiasm of these wonderful entities, take a break to think, vent and understand, albeit in a simple and pure way, the profound and wise messages of these true sages, entities of purity cosmic.
Long live Cosimo and Damião!
Save all yours!
Save Oni Kiss!
*The mediums in Umbanda are daughters and sons of the House that incorporate the entities. Mediumship is linked to the healing work where they do the work of discharge and pass on some spiritual message.
**Josineide Costa, Social Worker, postgraduate in family health, activist in the Small Farmers Movement (MPA), daughter of Santo da Mãe Bethe de Iansã, at Terreiro de Umbanda Sol do Oriente, in Águas Linda de Goiás.
Source: Federal District BdF
Edition: Flávia Quirino