Initiation Period in Candomblé

The initial Candomblé initiation period lasts at least 21 days for an elegun (person who gets possessed). The Iyawo spends at least 21 days in the Terreiro for the initiation(and usually more); traditional Candomblé initiations do not last 7 days. It is also not uncommon for the iyawo to spend months in the terreiro after the actual initiation is over.

The iyawo also goes through 3 months of restrictions (preceito, or being “of kele”) and only wears white clothing while keeping the head covered; depending on the Orisa and the Odu, the Iyawo may spend more time in a restrictive period up to the end of their first year. There are obligations to be completed at 1, 3 (sometimes 5), and 7 years before the Iyawo can assume their position in the ile as an elder. If the Iyawo has a path to be a Baba or Ìyá, they must receive their Deka/Igbase before they can take on this role; they are, however, considered full initiates after their 7th year obligation whether or not they have received Deka/Igbase. It is also not uncommon for the Iyawo to have to go through another period of simpler restrictions after each obligation.


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