Religions of Brazil By Carol DiRienzo-EDU557
The movie “Brazil, Heart of South America” provides a glimpse of the beauty of Brazil. The movie will show the warm and unique views that only Brazil can offer. The movie shows Brazil’s tropical rainforest, amazing beaches, and the incredible dedication to religion.
Brazil’s religion is primarily Catholic. The 74% of Catholics located in Brazil is the largest in the world. Catholicism was the main religion during the 18th century because of the Portuguese settlers that found there way to Brazil. • There have been some additions to the Catholic religion like praying to Padre Cicero, who was a dead priest from Ceara. Some Catholics will go on pilgrimages to other places in Brazil. • One of the pilgrimages will find patrons going to visit the patron saint of Brazil NossaSenhoradaAparecida because the saint was seen in the city. • There is 15.4% of Protestants in Brazil and their numbers seem to be growing. The Assembly of God seems to be seeing the largest numbers.
The Protestant are very particular about what its members can and cannot do. Members of some Protestant religions are not allowed to participate in gambling, alcohol, drugs or dressing inappropriately. • Those that consider themselves agnostics, atheist or not having a religion is 7.4%. • Spiritialism is another religion observed with 1.3%. The Latter-Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhism, Seicho-No-Ie, Judaism, and Islam combined are 1.8% of the population.
African inspired religions such as Candomble, Macumba and Umbanda which are traditional religions related to the .3% of Africans. Candomble borrows some of its beliefs from the Yoruba tribe and contains several African components. One of their beliefs is in healing a person’s soul because it is the most important thing in a person’s life. • Candomble begins with making an offering to Exu who is a messenger from their god Orixa. This communication is primarily done through a person’s body becoming possessed by Orixa.
Macumba, another African inspired religion is derived from the African word Bantu. Macumba has several meanings like magic, a mustical instrument or the name given to a Central African god. • In the 19th century Macumba could be found mainly around the cities of Rio de Janeiro. Macumba could also be known as meaning “black witchcraft.” Near the end of the 20th century the religion changed its name to Umbanda.
The five regions of Brazil are amazing as well as the people that live in Brazil. Religion is significant to the regions and the people of Brazil. The southern region has the city of Porto Alegre. Sao Paulo in the Southeast, Campo Grande in Central Brazil, Manaus in the North, Salvador in the Northeast and of course Rio de Janeiro.
“Village and Plantation Life in Northeastern Brazil” provides some good background information about the regions and religions in Brazil. In the sugar cane region spiritualism is observed. Spiritualism is another religion that is not understood by many people. This religion unlike Candomble does not use drums; so many people are unaware when this cultism is in session. • Spiritualism is known to have great healing powers and people from the towns and rural areas are drawn to the mediums of this religion. People will usually turn to spiritualism as a last resort because medical treatments are expensive. Spiritualism uses more herbal methods to help its members. Unlike Candomble, there is not any dancing involved in their ceremonies.
The book, “The African Religions of Brazil” by Roger Bastidereveals the development, adaption, and acceptance of the religions Umbanda, Mucumba, Spiritualism, and Candomble.
Candomble does use drums in their sessions. At nighttime this can be very eerie to those that have no knowledge of the religion. • This religion is practiced in many homes of African cultism. In modern Brazil, many young people are not heavily involved in the religion. • Candomble cult houses are called “terreiros,” the most active houses are usually located in line with the other houses in the cities or towns.
Other terreiros can be found near plantations, but they are a little more scatter because of the layout of the villages. • Inside the main terreiros this is an altar. Plants, leaves, dishes, bottles, cups, and glasses of food and drink for the spirits surround the altars or “pegi” of the Candomble. • The altars will also have a symbol for each spirit like a spade, sword, or a hatchet.
Components for ceremonial festivals like dresses and the headdresses of the spirits are kept in the pegi. • The other key room in the pegi is the “matancas.” This room is the sacrificial killings room of goats and chickens during ceremonies. • Many African cults will also observe Catholism. • Candomble’s view themselves as “zeladores,” people who take care of the saints found on earth.
Robert Farris Thompson’s book “Flash of the Spirit” provides about the Yoruba art and their culture. Yoruba religion is a religion that worships various spirits under God. Yoruba are the messengers and have the power to make things happen. • Yoruba have their own light that is assessable to men and women. To the Yoruba God Almighty is called Yoruba Olorun, the master of the skies. The book describes how the religion came to the Americans and some of the plates that are placed in the altars of the terreiros
There were two main African “nations” at the beginning of the century. The followers of the deities of the Yoruba in rites called Candomble who were followers of Kongo and Angola medicines and spirits. • They were originally called “cabula”. Thompson talks about the colors chosen by the Candomble for the ceremonies. The colors that the Candomble chose for ceremonies in Bahia were the colors that have symbolic Yoruba-Dahomean meaning. • Macumba is a word of African (Bantu) origins. The word has several meanings, such as a musical instrument, the name of a Central African god and simply "magic". It was the name used for all Bantu religions in the 19th Century around Rio de Janeiro.
John Burdick’s book . “Looking for God in Brazil: The Progressive Catholic Church in Urban Brazils Religious Arena.” discusses the foundation of the Umbanda. The foundation of Umbanda is based on karmic. A karmic is a model of purification known as “chefes” and “ogas.” These are a combination of elements used in Kardecist spiritualism. • They are also used in Catholism and Candomble. Umbanda views a person’s astral plane after they die and is based upon what the person achieved in life. Those who are burdened after their death will find that heir spirit will wander the earth.
Burkick discusses how the mediums consult with the spirits. The medium looks to receive the spirit while in session and helps those seeking aid. It is not unusual for a person to become attached to a particular medium. • The mediums of Umbanda will not refer to people seeking help as a client. Instead mediums will refer to those people as visitors, onlookers, or guest. • Some people come that are curious and some to ridicule. This apparently will bring negative vibrations and interfere with the work of the medium.
The following books will provide general information about Brazil: • Glenn Cheney’s book, “The Amazon” will provide a simple and brief look at Manaus, and the rubber boom. It explains the conditions of life for people in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro along with the Amazonians of Brazil. • Marshall Cavendish’s book “Brazil: A Portrait of the Country Through its Festivals and Traditions” will describe a few major festivals and traditions celebrated in Brazil. It reveals the significance of the religions of Candomble and Macumba. It mentions some of the festivals that are celebrated like Festa de Iemanja, Goddess of the Sea on New Years
Patricia Robb’s book “We Live in Brazil” will inform about a selection of people located in the Amazon, Brasilia, Manaus, Salvador, Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro and what their lives are like living in those areas of Brazil. • Robb was a journalist who worked and lived in Brazil for many years. In her book she speaks with several people from a variety of occupations.
David Hess discusses the ideology, spiritualism, and Brazilian culture in his book “Spirit and Scientists.” Hess discusses the practices of Spiritists such as they are different from the Catholics and Protestants who pass around a plate to accept offerings. • The Umbanda and Candomble have been known to charge a fee for their services during rituals by the priests and priestesses. Spiritist’s apparently do both and provide private psychic readings. • There are spiritual institutions located in Sao Paulo. The spiritual intellect in Sao Paulo can be found in institutes such as “Spiritist Medical Association of Sao Paulo,” (AMESP) Psycho Biophysical Research, (IBPP) and Brazilian Spiritist Culture. (ICEB) located in Rio de Janeiro. • Although these facilities are no more than small offices, they reach far beyond this in the religious arena.
In the book “African Civilisations in the New World” by Roger Bastide points out that there are numerous sects that still have names that are related to their ethnic origin. • These sects also keep up their national traditions with a great deal of enthusiasm. In Porto-Alegre there is one Yoruba called Oyo, which is the name of a town in Nigeria. • Candomble celebrate a person’s death for seven days with the purpose of driving that person soul from the earth.
According to Bastide “Religion, then, is a living experience yet it is not alive, in the sense that it does not evolve, does not change with the passage of time, and remains anchored to the performance of such ritual as has been lad down by the ancesteors.”
“Blood, Oil, Honey, and Water: Symbolism in Spirit Possession Sects in Northeastern Brazil”by Dolores J. Shapiro appeared in American Ethnologist where she speaks about the various religions were broken up in relationship to their color. • One of the groups that she studied was Candomble in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Shapiro notes how oil from the palm trees is used in Candomble rituals.
An article in Luso-Brazilian Review titled “The UncourtedMenina: Brazil's Portuguese Heritage” by Stuart B. Schwartz is about how the Portuguese families colonized Brazil and how they classed the immigrants based on their class. Schwartz discusses the Catholic religious order adhered by the Portuguese in Northeastern Brazil. The Portuguese people were primarily a patriarchal society in Brazil.
Kelly E. Hayes writes a incredible review in The Journal of Religion about “A Refuge in Thunder: Candomble and Alternative Spaces of Blackness.” by Rachel E. Harding gives a compelling example of how blacks in Brazil are dehumanized and assumed to be slaves. She takes a look a Salvador position on slavery. Her research was based on journals as well as legal documents to support her views on this situation. Harding talks about the historical suppression of the existence of African religions in the area.
Alceu Amoroso Lima gives you an outlook of how religion progress through Brazil in stages in his article “Religious Education in Brazil"written in The Americas. The article takes you through time from the beginning in 1553 to present day. It explains how religion progressed in Brazil and how it all began with Counter-Reformation.
“Regionalism and Cultural Unity in Brazil” by Charles Wagley is an article in Social Forces which discusses the diversity of people located in various cities and regions of Brazil. The article reveals several components about the people of Brazil as a society and about some of the regions and what they encounter on a daily bases. He also discusses the stereotyping that occurs in some of the cities.
Diana De G. Brown, Mario Bick wrote an article in American Ethnologist which talks about “Religion, Class, and Context: Continuities and Discontinuities in Brazilian Umbanda” and how the Umbanda religion is gaining popularity quickly in Brazil. The Umbanda is not only catching the eyes of the poor, but also the influential classes as well in Brazil.
“The North is almost entirely covered by the Amazon Rainforest, the largest rainforest in the world. It is the region with the lowest number of population, though with many indigenous tribes. The only cities of any interest are Manaus, starting point of many tours into the Amazon and Belém, the biggest metropolitan area of the region. Furthermore it is quite undeveloped with very little industry. Heavy rainfall and high temperatures characterize the climate in the north
. The Northeast or Sertao region has one third of Brazil's population. The region is culturally diverse, with roots from the Portuguese colonial period, Afro-Brazilian culture and some Brazilian Indian influence. The region is made up of rocky plateaus and scrub vegetation. It is well-known for its beautiful coast. The climate is semi-arid and the weather is much harsher than in the Amazon region. Dry spells can last for 3 to 4 years. When the rains come, it can last for weeks, causing serious flooding
The Central-West includes towns and cities as well as vast plains where cattle-raising predominates. The region is called the MatoGrosso for its thick scrub forest. Much of the region is covered by Cerrado, the largest savanna in the world. The most important cities of this region are: Brasília (the capital), Goiânia, Campo Grande and Cuiabá.
The Southeast is the richest region and is the most densely populated. In the east it is bordered by the Serra do Mar mountain range. It is the region with the country's two biggest cities; São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The region is very diverse with a subtropical climate. Coffee, cotton, sugar cane, soybeans and wheat are grown here.
The South has the best standard of living in the country and is the coldest region of Brazil, with even some occassional frost and snow in some of the higher areas. This region is known for its many European immigrants, mainly of Italian, German, Portuguese and Slavic descent and shows clear influences from these cultures. The most important cities of this region are: Curitiba, Florianópolis, Blumenau and Joinville.”
In Porto Aelgre you can visit and find out information about the following places: Metropolitan Cathedral of Porto Alegre, and Church NossaSenhora das Dores - IgrejaNossaSenhora das Dores.
Sao Paulo is the third largest city in Brazil. Jesuit priest founded a mission on a small hill in 1554 near the River Tiete. After a few years the mission became a trading post. In 171 enough trading occurred and the plateau became the city of Sao Paulo. The soil in the region would be ideal for growing coffee.
MuseuPaulista is the birthplace of Brazils independence from Portugal. It is also the site where D. Pedro I declared that independence in 1822. There are exhibits of the history of Sao Paulo located in the museum. Sao Bento Basilica is part of Sao Bento monastery which has a unique architectural design.
Jesuit school and church (now a museum) Sao Paulo
There are several churches in Sao Paulo The Ruins of Sao Paulo Church St. Pauls Cathedral, The First Church of Christ Scientists, and Mission of the Jesuit priests.
In the central region is Campo Grande and the Padre Pedros Church. Manaus in the northern region is Cathedral de NossaSehoradaConceicao which is commonly known as the IgrejaMatriz. The building is pretty plain, not decorated like the rest of the city. In 1850, a fire destroyed the original building. The replacement building was built in the mid 19th century. The Museu do Indio is a museum where exhibits of sacred ritual masks are displayed.
IgrejaMatriz de N. Sra. daConceição - Our Lady of Conceição Parish Church
Salvador was founded in 1549 and located between the Atlantic Ocean and All Saints Bay. Salvador was originally called “City of Bahia.” They celebrate the nation Independence Day in September, but also their own in July when Salvador gained Independence from Portugal. Salvador is divided into two cities, the Lower city, primarily commercial and the Upper city which is the oldest architecture and historical district.