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Umbanda

Umbanda

A contemporary Afro-Brazilian religion. Like Santeria, it is basically a possession religion in which members assume the form of deities both for worship and magic. It was founded in 1920, at a time when a wave of anti-European feelings was sweeping through the country, fanned by the inspiration of a young man, Zélio de Moraes, by an alleged Indian spirit. Among the initial leaders were former Spiritist mediums who became known for receiving spirits of caboclos, Brazilian Indians, and pretos velhos, former African slaves.

Umbanda's stronghold is Rio de Janeiro and the surrounding area in the south of Brazil. Worship is lively with much clapping, singing, and dancing.

Sources:

Brown, Diana DeGroat. Umbanda: Religion and Politics in Urban Brazil. Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI Press, 1986.

Hess, David J. Samba in the Night: Spiritism in Brazil. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

St. Clair, David. Drum and Candle. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday; London: Macdonald, 1971.

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Umbanda

Umbanda. A Brazilian cult which, because of its syncretizing tendencies, has also become a general term for all forms of a new eclectic and syncretist religious complex in urban Brazil. The spiritual world is composed of many spirit powers drawn from sources such as the following: (i) caboclos, spirits of great Amerindian leaders or of spiritualized natural forces; (ii) pretos velhos, spirits of the old or wise among Negro slaves, (iii) crianças, spirits of children who died young; (iv) orixas, spirits of African ancestors or deities, especially Yoruba; (v) spirits of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, or the saints of Portuguese folk Catholicism, often equated with the previous group; and (vi) other spirits and occult powers as understood in the sophisticated French spiritualism articulated by Alan Kardec (1804–69), which attracts the higher social classes.

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