A PATAKI FOR YEMAYA
A traditional Yoruba story
One day Olofi was having a party in ara onu. He invited all of the orisha to come to the gala. So he sent word out with Elegua to invite all of the orishas. Elegua ran with the word as Olofi was having a party and he knew there would be lots of sweets for him to pick on. So Elegua came to earth and went to each orisha and gave the invitation on the party. House to house Elegua went spreading the news and of course getting paid for it by receiving candy, oti and smoked fish.
The orishas decided to take Olofi a gift as it was an honor to go to the palace of Olofi. Each orisha went on there way looking for gifts to take to Olofi. Obatala decided to take Olofi a white staff made out of pearls and gold. Ochun decided to take Olofi perfumes so the great king can perfume his body. Each orisha went picking up what they thought would be a nice gift for Olofi.
Yemaya received the invitation from Elegua but she had so much work to do in the seas and all parts of the world. She was still maintaining life on the lands and bearing gifts to her followers. Time went on and the date of the party was near and the orisha of the ocean still did not get her gift for Olofi. While attending to her domain, Elegua popped in and asked her what was she getting for Olofi. Yemaya looked at Elegua and asked him in what was he talking about. Elegua reminded her that Olofi was having a party in the heavens and that all of the orishas were required to attend and that they should all bring a gift. Yemaya with a shocked look on her face, called for one of her fishes to immediately take her to the shore so she can get something for Olofi. Her fastest fish came and rushed her to the shore where Yemaya proceeded to look for a gift that was honorable for Olofi.
Yemaya though and though and she did not have any idea of what to get Olofi. She went to the only thing that was open which was the market to see what she can get. Once she arrived at the market place she noticed that Oya was still there tending to the market. She asked Oya what was she getting Olofi and Oya replied that she was getting Olofi baskets of most beautiful fruits so that he may feast upon them. Oya told Yemaya to look around and hurry up and pick something as the party was just in an hour or so. Yemaya ran to every merchant in the market place and everywhere she went either they were closed or they didn’t have anything that would suit a king. Yemaya was very upset at herself because she had ample enough time to get a gift but she was tending to her children of the sea and children on land. Finally Yemaya came to the last merchant and asked him what he had. The merchant replied to Yemaya that the only thing he had was the head of 3 fishes and that was it. Yemaya looked at him with dismay and told him that she would take it. She knew she couldn’t walk into the palace of Olofi empty handed. The merchant wrapped up the 3 heads and gave it to Yemaya.
Yemaya went back home to the oceans and she proceeded to get dressed with her most luxurious blue dress. She adorned herself with all of her cowrie shells and pearls with corals. The great orisha had to look her best as she would be in the presence of Olofi. But in the back of her mind she still wasn’t content on the gift she got Olofi. There was no more time and nothing she can do. Yemaya took off to the sky to attend the party with her gift in a basket.
Yemaya arrived at the party and saw all the orishas with there best clothes on. She was saluted at the door by Elegua as the orisha of the sea. All orishas who were present bowed and paid Yemaya her honor. She mingled with all the orishas and started to ease her mind about the gift she bought to Olofi.
The trumpet sounded and Olofi entered the room and every orisha, animal and trees stopped to bow their heads to the great Olofi. Olofi sat on his golden throne and started to greet his court one by one. Each orisha started to bring their gift to Olofi. The great king, very happy and surprised accepted their gifts and blessed each and every one of them. Yemaya stood all the way to the back as she did not want to be making of mockery of her gift. After the last orisha gave Olofi his gift, Olofi called out to Yemaya and asked her for hers. She walked over to Olofi and told him that she was very sorry that she did not bring him a gift as she was tending to her children in the sea. Olofi looked at Yemaya and told her he understood but since he is Olofi he knows all and asked her what was it that she brought in that basket. Yemaya bashful told Olofi that it was nothing and Olofi told her in a soft voice to give him what she had in the basket. Yemaya opened the basket and there came out, a white plate with 3 heads of a fish. She was so embarrassed because first it was Olofi and second because what would all the other orishas think of her. She bowed and gave it to Olofi.
Olofi looked at it and asked Yemaya if this was the gift that she brought to him. Yemaya responded to him that yes it was. Olofi asked Yemaya if this is the sort of gift you give to a king. Yemaya started to respond when Olofi sat back in his chair and started to laugh. All the orisha silently started to laugh at Yemaya while she put her head down. Olofi told her to keep her head straight as this was no ordinary gift. He told her that the other orishas brought him gifts of great vain and beauty but she Yemaya brought him something that had significant meaning. Yemaya wondered what he was talking about while she raised her head .Olofi stood up and walked off his throne towards Yemaya. He took the plate that held the head of the 3 fishes and told Yemaya that the same way she brought him a head, he would make her head of all waters. While he said that the head of the 3 fishes turned into 3 separate beautiful crowns made of nothing but silver and gems. He placed one crown on top of Yemaya and told her that from this day forward she will be queen of the oceans. He placed the other crown on her head and told her that from this day forward she will be queen of the lands and he placed the last crown on her head and told her that from this day forward she will be queen of the heavens. The 3 crowns glowed and became one big crown. Olofi then proceeded to tell her that her crown will always be recognized in every ceremonial birth. Her color blue can not be excluded from any ceremonial births as she is a queen. She as an orisha does not have to wear her crown because it is not forever bestowed on her and she is always to be known as royalty.
Yemaya saluted Olofi in the tradition of lying side by side and Olofi picked her up. He then told her to face the court and had everyone come and salute the new queen of the ocean, land and heaven. One by one all the orishas came and paid respect to Yemaya. After the party she was escorted back to the seas by Olofi’s high court with trumpets that sounded as she entered the ocean and saw her new castle that was given to her by Olofi. She looked up into the heavens and saw Olofi looking down on her and she crossed her hands asking for blessings. Olofi blessed her and she asked him why he bestowed her that honor as a triple queen. Olofi told her that he did it since she is always tending to her children of the seas and of the lands. He told her that she catered to her children so much that she didn’t have time to even get him a gift that he did not require for anyone to bring. Olofi told her that each gift brought to him was a gift from the heart and he sees where her heart lies. Yemaya sat on her gigantic throne flushed with gold, silver, pearls and corals and all the fishes of the sea came to pay respect to the new queen of the sea.