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CANDOMBLE, MACUMBA, UMBANDA AND KIMBANDA

CANDOMBLE, MACUMBA, UMBANDA AND KIMBANDAJan.15, 2011 - Only the trembling flame of a candle lights the scene… Kneeling down, hands joined, a young man who has left recently his teenage years is facing the officiating priest. He seems to see nothing, to hear nothing, to feel nothing. On the ground of the secret chamber, a black cook decapitated palpitates in a last convulsion.

The officiating priest takes the body of the animal and sprinkles the blood still tepid on the knelt man. His lips murmur an incantation then he backs out of the chamber.

Always motionless however the blood coagulates in his hair or runs along his face, the probationer of the CANDOMBLE seems to have the rigidity of a dead ; only there is an unperceivable blinking of the eyelids which animates his face somewhat.

He is not alone. Near the corpse of the black cook, a man is lying, also motionless and dumb. He will go out the secret chamber only when the probationer, become son of saint, will go out the room by himself, after having respected all the mysterious rites of the Candomble. Because initiation is long, difficult and hard. One can be selected as son or daughter of saint only after having beared in the secret chamber all the tests that lead to purification.

Sometimes the probationer collapses, his nerves have gone to pieces. He is dismissed with the imperative order to absolutely reveal nothing about the meetings in which he took part. If not... Because the power of the Candomble is so great that it can kill from a distance. It is the same way as for VOODOO in Antilla: MACUMBA, UMBANDA or KIMBANDA that one meets in Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela, Argentina... these particular worships come from Africa.

Colonized by Portugueses, Brazil became independent in 1822 but already people were catholics. The black slaves coming from Africa brought their habits and believes from their native countries with all their mysteries and different witchcrafts. Little by little african people integrated to south american ones and this produced a melting pot between the main religion and the african worships. And so, the CANDOMBLE worship introduced in so important nowaday -particularly in the Bahia state- that one counts more than two thousands religious centers in the country today.

The african rites have spread easily because a lot of of black workers searching for a job went down to the south. They took along with them what they all cared about: their religion. The differences which are due specially to the interpretation of the rites became: MACUMBA here, UMBANDA there. Only the KIMBANDA proposed a particular worship where one called not the angels and the saints from the Holy Divine but the devilish forces. This last worship of the KIMBANDA is more or less occult and generally rejected by the brazilian people and its adorators are used to make silence not to reveal they belong to its congregations.

Regarding the other worships, the CANDOMBLE is mainly the greatest and the more violent in its ritual practices. It is divided into two parts: the first one which is secret and which is linked to the initiation of the sons and daughters of saints and the other one which is public and proceeds in the open air or into the religious centers. As for the VOODOO, the collective scenes begin according to a rather slow rhythm. Little by little, the attenders are carried along by songs and dances which bring them about hysteria. Supernatural phenomena can occur for which no scientific explanation can be given. Priests and missionaries who attended to such scenes recognized that indeed they could exceed the human understanding.

One notes that in the CANDOMBLE, the called saints are the same ones of the catholic religion. Only the names change: by example, St Georges favourite because he brought down the devil, became Xango. Jesus himself became Oxala and God his father, became Olorum. Satan is named Exu.

During the CANDOMBLE's ceremonies, one makes a large use of tobacco and alcohol which have a purifying role and take part to whip up the tension.They have a strange capacity: they allow Oxiras which are the intermediaries between the Holy Divine and the Earth, to be incarnate into some believers. But it is still necessary that these believers are already sons or daughters of saints which implies they have been already initiated during the rites of purification in the secret chamber.

Here one touches to occultism or sorcery. On the contrary of what occurs during the public ceremonies, the probationer lives completely separate from the world during three weeks. He stays permanently in the secret chamber for leaving it only three times at the end of each week on a limited time. During the public ceremonies he is conspicuous because on each occasion he wears an appropriate cloth and follows a particular rite. Thus one can note that the initiation goes on normally and that the probationer reaches a new degree in the knowledge.

At the ninth and last exit, an imposing ceremony proceeds in the honor of the new son or daughter of saint.

The rites of initiation remains still mysterious. However it is known that formerly, they were accompanied by human sacrifices. Young children were killed and it was their blood which sprinkled the probationer. Today one sacrifices only a black cock, a young ewe or a kid. And the presence of a man or of a woman lying in the secret chamber near the probationer has a precise significance: it symbolizes the child who should have been sacrificed. According to some travellers, human sacrifices still exist in some withdrawn places but there no real proof of this.

A lot of of Brazilians attend, even if they do not proclaim it, to the public ceremonies of the CANDOMBLE, MACUMBA, UMBANDA or KIMBANDA. The ceremony which attracts the most is that one which is dedicated to the queen of the sea: Iémanja (on December 31). Even the poorest one is used to bring a gift which is placed into a boat given up then to the ocean.

The catholic authorities condemned these religious practices but did nothing to forbid them because it was generally admitted that they should disappear as the social and economic condition of Brazil will be better. However it is false… because the number of religious centers dedicated to CANDOMBLE, MACUMBA, UMBANDA or KIMBANDA increases as Brazil thrives economically.

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