From Academic Kids

Originating in Brazil in the early 20th century, Umbanda is a religion that blends Catholicism, Kardecist Spiritualism and Afro-Brazilian traditions. It started in among the lower-class Afro-Brazilian population of Rio de Janeiro but has now spread all over the country.

Umbanda is a polytheist syncretic religion based on the worship of African Orishas, brought to Brazil by the African slaves during the colonial period. Each Orisha is associated with a Catholic saint under whose name worship takes place. For insance, Ogum, the blacksmith Orisha, is associated with Saint George, while Yansan, with Saint Barbara. God himself is regarded as deus otiosus and is seldom referred to directly.

As in Candomblé, the cult used to be carried out in rustic temples called terreiros — large round spaces surrounded by wooden seats and covered with palm-leaf roofs. Music (percussion and chanting) played a central role. The head of the terreiro is called "pai-de-santo" ("saint father") or "mãe-de-santo" ("saint mother") and the followers are usually called "filhos-de-santo" ("saint children", masculine plural form).

Worshipping involves bloodless sacrifices to the deities (black hens, cheap wine, farofa, cachaça, popcorn, cigarettes, hard cider and other types of foodstuffs or beverages, depending on the "saint") and had complex initiation rites. "Pais de santo" and "Mães de santo" also play divination using the "jogo de búzios" (the reading of the arrangement of small sea shells), give advice to those who seek it and produce "strong prayers" (Rezas fortes) for those who need them to evade troubles with the police, lack of money, sexual impotence, and other nuisances, usually attributed to the Evil Eye.

Until the half of the 20th century, all Afro-Brazilian religions were considered criminal heresy by the Brazilian government. More recently they have become part of popular culture as many novelists and songwriters have written or sung about them. Most of Jorge Amado's works, for instance, are heavily concerned with the trials and tribulations of the Afro-Brazilians and helped foster tolerance towards Umbanda. From the 1960s, many songs about Umbanda and the other Afro-Brazilian religions became popular. Among the famous Brazilian composers who treated the subject, Tom Jobim, Toquinho, Vinícius de Moraes, Geraldo Vandré and Clara Nunes are the most widely known. In the 1970s, poet Vinícius de Moraes married his last wife, Gesse, in an Umbandist ceremony witnessed by many prominent figures of Brazilian culture and politics.

Umbanda is juxtaposed with Quimbanda and distinct from both Macumba and Candomblé.

Famous Umbandists

et:Umbanda no:Umbanda pt:Umbanda es:Umbanda


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools