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CANDOMBLÉ

Candomblé

 

This was taken from Wikipedia.
Candomblé is an African-originated or Afro-Brazilian religion, practised chiefly in Brazil by the "povo de santo" (people of saint). It originated in the cities of Salvador, the capital of Bahia and Cachoeira, at the time one of the main commercial crossroads for the distribution of products and slave trade to other parts of Bahia state in Brazil. Although Candomblé is practiced primarily in Brazil, it is also practiced in other countries in the Americas, including Uruguay, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Mexico, and in Europe in Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

The religion is based in the anima (soul) of Nature, and is also known as Animism. It was developed in Brazil with the knowledge of African Priests that were enslaved and brought to Brazil, together with their mythology, their culture and language, between 1549 and 1888.

The rituals involve the possession of the initiated by Orishas, offerings and sacrifices of the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdom, healing, dancing/trance and percussion. Candomblé draws inspiration from a variety of people of the African Diaspora, but it mainly features aspects of Yoruba orisha veneration.

Overview

In many parts of the Latin America, Orishás are now conflated with Roman Catholic saints. This religion, like many African religions, is an oral tradition and therefore has not been put into text throughout the years. Only recently have scholars and people of this religion begun to write down their practices. The name Batuque is also used, especially before the 19th century when Candomblé became more common. Both words are believed to derive from a Bantu-family language, mainly that of (Kongo Kingdom).

Candomblé may be called Macumba in some regions, notably Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, although
Macumba has a distinct set of practices more akin to European witchcraft. Candomblé can also be distinguished from Umbanda, a religion founded in the early 20th century by combining African elements with Kardecism; and from similar African-derived religions such as Quimbanda, Haitian Vodou, Cuban Santería, and Obeah, which developed independently of Candomblé and are virtually unknown in Brazil.
There are 2 million Candombles worldwide [1].

Nations

Brazilian slaves came from a number of African ethnic groups, including Igbo, Yoruba, Ewe, Fon, and Bantu. Slave handlers classified them by the shore of embarkment, so the relation to their actual ethnicity may be accurate or not. As the religion developed semi-independently in different regions of the country, among different ethnic groups, it evolved into several "sects" or nations (nações), distinguished chiefly by the set of worshiped deities, as well as the music and language used in the rituals.

The division into nations was also influenced by the religious and beneficent brotherhoods (irmandades) of Brazilian slaves organized by the Catholic Church in the 18th and 19th centuries. These fraternities, organized along ethnic lines to allow preaching in the slaves' native languages, provided a legitimate cover for slave reunions, and ultimately may have aided the establishment of Candomblé.
The following list is a rough classification of the major nations and sub-nations, and their sacred languages:

Beliefs

Candomblé is a polytheistic religion and worships a number of gods, derived from African deities:
These deities were created by a supreme God: Olodumare, Olorun etc. of the Yoruba, Zambi or Zambiapongo of the Bantu, and Nana Buluku of the Fon.

On the other hand, deities from one nation may be acculturated as "guests" in houses and ceremonies of another nation, besides those of the latter. Some nations assign new names to guest spirits, while some retain the names used in the nation of origin.

Syncretism

There is also an Islamic-linked sect within Candomblé which was more common during the slave days in Brazil. Slaves coming from West Africa had been acculturated with Muslim traditions. (MOORS) These Malês set aside Fridays as the day to worship deities as do the Muslims for prayer and meditation. Malês were the instigators of many slave revolts in Brazil leading in all white with amulets and skull caps as in traditional Islam.

In this regard, it is worth noting that some Candomblé rites have also incorporated local Native American gods — which, to the Church, were just as pagan as the Orixás — because they were seen as the "Orishas of the land". Finally, one should keep in mind that many (if not most) practitioners of Candomblé through the times had not only African roots but European ones as well.

Although syncretism still seems to be prevalent, in recent years the lessening of religious and racial prejudices has given rise to a "traditionalist" movement in Candomblé, that rejects the Christian elements and seeks to recreate a "pure" cult based exclusively in Africa.

Rituals

The Candomblé ritual (toque) has two parts: the preparation, attended only by priests and initiates, which may start a week in advance; and a festive public "mass" and banquet that starts in the late evening and ends around midnight.

In the first part, initiates and aides wash and iron the costumes for the ceremony, and decorate the house with paper flags and festoons, in the colors favored by the Orixas that are to be honored on that occasion. They also prepare food for the banquet. Some domestic animals are slaughtered; some parts reserved for sacrifice, the rest is prepared for the banquet. On the day of the ceremony, starting in the early morning, cowrie-shell divinations (jogo de búzios) are performed, and sacrifices are offered to the desired Orixás, and to the messenger spirit (Exú in Ketu).

In the public part of the ceremony, children-of-saint (mediunic priests) invoke and "incorporate" Orixás, falling into a trance-like state. After having fallen into trance, the priest-spirits perform dances symbolic of the Orixá's attributes, while the babalorixá or father of saint (leading male priest) leads songs that celebrate the spirit's deeds. The ceremony ends with a banquet.

Candomblé music, an essential part of the ritual, derives from African music and has had a strong influence in other popular (non-religious) Brazilian music styles. The word batuque, for instance, has entered the Brazilian vernacular as a synonym of "rhythmic percussion music".

Temples and priesthood


Ilê Axé Opó Afonjá
Candomblé temples are called houses (casas), plantations (roças), or yards (terreiros). Most Candomblé houses are small, independently owned and managed by the respective higher priests (father- or mother-of-saint). A few of the older and larger houses have a more institutional character and more formal hierarchy.

There is no central administration. Inside the place of worship are the altars to the Orixás, or Pejis.
Candomblé priesthood is organized into symbolic families, whose members are not necessarily relatives in the common sense. Each family owns and manages one house. In most houses, especially the larger ones, the head of the family is always a woman, the mãe-de-santo, or ialorixá, mother-of-saint in Candomblé , seconded by the pais-de-santo, or babalorixá father-of-saint.The priests and priestesses may also be known as ialorixá, babalorixá , babalaos (interpreters of búzios), babas, babaloshas,and candomblezeiros.

Some houses have a more flexible hierarchy which allows the father-of-saint to be the head priest. Often during the slave period, the women became the diviners and healers which was not part of African tradition; however, the male slaves were constantly working and did not have the time to take care of daily instances.



Admission to the priesthood and progression in the hierarchy is conditioned to approval by the Orixás, possession of the necessary qualities, learning the necessary knowledge, and performance of lengthy initiation rites, which last seven years or more.

There are generally two types of priesthood in the different nations of Candomble, and they are made up of those who fall in trance by the Orixá (iyawo) and those who do not (Oga – male/Ekeji – female). It is important not to confuse the meaning and usage of the Yoruba term iyawò (bride in Yoruba) with other African derived religions that use the same term with different meanings.
Priesthood Initiation In Brazil: Ifá, Egungun, Orisha (Orixa), Vodun and Nkisi, are separated by type of priesthood initiation.
  • Ifá only initiation Babalawos, do not come into trance.
  • Egungun only initiation Babaojés, do not come into trance.
  • Candomblé Ketu initiation Iyawos, come into trance with Orixá.
  • Candomblé Jeje initiation Vodunsis, come into trance with Vodun.
  • Candomblé Bantu initiation Muzenzas, come into trance with Nkisi.

Priesthood

In Afro-Brazilian Religion the priesthood is divided into:
    

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