Candomble is an Afro-Brazilian religion that developed in the cities and plantations of northeastern Brazil in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Created by enslaved Africans and their descendants, its roots are in ancient societies of West, Central and Southwest Africa -- among these, the Dahomey empire; the Yoruba kingdoms of Oyo, Ketu and Oshogbo; and the Kongo and Angola nations.
In addition to the African origins of Candomble, there are some Amerindian and Catholic elements which reflect influences of the colonial society in which the religion came into being.
Fundamentally, Candomble is a religion of balance and reciprocity which places great emphasis, in its rituals and in its cosmology, on the interconnectedness of all forms of life. Human beings are not seen as somehow separate from other elements of the natural universe. All life is related. And all life is necessary. Candomble is also a religion of resistance.
During the period of slavery Candomble was one of the most important means that Afro-Brazilians created to maintain their most deeply human identities, in spite of their subaltern position in the larger society. In the present-day the religion continues to serve as a way to cultivate profound connections to ancestral traditions, to sacred energies (voduns, orishas and nkisis) and to positive meanings of blackness in the midst of an often painfully racist society.THINGS TO DO
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 buzios) are performed, and sacrifices are offered to the desired Orix�s, and to the messenger spirit (Exu in Ketu).In the public part of the ceremony, children-of-saint (mediunic priests) invoke and "incorporate" Orixas, falling into a trance-like state. After having fallen into trance, the priest-spirits perform dances symbolic of the Orixa's attributes, while the babalorixa or father of saint (leading male priest) leads songs that celebrate the spirit's deeds. The ceremony ends with banquet.Candomble 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".
Candomble is a synthesis of three African religions, Yoruba, Fon and Bantu, and Voduns and inkices are the names preferred by the other two sects. For the purposes of clarity, the term orixa will be used throughout the article.Candomble practitioners believe that every person has their own individual orixa which controls his or her destiny and acts as a protector. Each orixa represents a certain force in nature and is associated with certain foods, colours, animals and days of the week. A person's character or personality is strongly linked to their orixa.Collectively; ancestor spirits are called 'Baba Egum' in Brazil. This is also known as 'Egungun' in other parts of South America. During important ceremonies, priests and priestesses will masquerade as Baba Egum. Specially choreographed dances will be performed in order to become possessed of each ancestor spirit.
These dances became important symbols of rebellion. Their rhythmic movements and rocking bodies belied the truth behind the dances. The enslaved Africans practiced a form of martial art within the dances, seamlessly moving from attacking positions to defensive ones, learning to quickly gauge how to react to their opponent. This dance is called capoeira and has become increasingly popular in the West as an art form.
Finally, Candomble is also a religion of creativity and healing. As in the African and indigenous Amerindian traditions from which it emerged, human illness in Candomble is understood in the larger, holistic context of physical, psychological, spiritual, environmental and social forces.