Yesterday, we went to a Candomble Ceremony.
Candomble is an African religion tied to the Yoruba culture that African slaves brought to Brazil. They had to disguise it as something the Portuguese could recognize, so they tied their Orishas, spirits with human like tendencies of good and bad, to Saints. The mix caused syncretism that’s found all over Latin America, and a religion that stands on its own.
We went around 8 to a terreiro, a church of Candomble, and watched as ladies filled in with their large skirts, and men in light colored garb gathered in the room. Drums began to play, and they began to move in a circle. (Cameras were forbidden, but there’s always google!)
What I found intensely interesting was the oral aspect of the religion, there are no holy texts in Candomble, but everyone who practices Candomble knows the songs, chants and music. The progession of it followed an ever increasing pace. The beat would begin, they would begin a new dance, and at its end, they would pause to either touch their head to the ground, or bring their hand from the ground to their head, and begin again. As the drums grew faster and faster, so did the dancing, and the chanting grew louder. The crowd knew what was next, and encouraged it by clapping to the beat. Next thing I knew, this happened,
Even though I saw Africa in that room, I also saw the United States and Baptist churches. Even my Grandmother’s Methodist church back home has people catching the Holy Ghost fever. It’s more or less the same kind of thing, possession. After a few more songs, the music stopped, and the possessed were taken into rooms away from the procession, then it was time to eat. They fed everyone in the house with typical Baiano foods, some people just came to eat! After a moment or two of a break, the music began again, the the terreiro filled back up. This time, instead of being clothed plainly, everyone was dressed as their Orishas.
The mother of saints, mae do santos, can tell you what your Orisha is, and I would like to think that mine is Oxum, also spelled Oshun. Just so my favorite song ever, my current theme song, (and possible wedding song for when I walk down the aisle), can be appropriate.
I really enjoyed the ceremony, and it’s something that makes my sociological anthropological bone tick… or move or whatever. I enjoyed it! It’s magical.
Before I overload this post with content, I’ll just end it here, and continue in the next.