Brazilian Religion Umbanda Ceremony
It was approximately 4:30 pm, when we headed out to attend an Umbanda ceremony in Goias, Brazil. Although the trip was long, the pleasant evening breeze and panorama made the car ride quite enjoyable.
When we arrived at our destination, the driver parked in front of a modest looking house. The front of the house was isolated. It appeared, we were the first to arrive.
The driver opened the front gate; and we proceeded to walk toward the back of the house. Upon arriving at the other side of the house, a man appeared. His name was Lazaro, a high priest. When Lazaro saw the driver, he gave him a warm friendly hug. Lazaro and the driver were old friends who had not seen each other for several years. After embracing and sharing pleasantries, we were introduced. Lazaro welcomed us warmly, and immediately made us feel at home.
Due to health reasons, Lazaro stated, he was no longer overseeing the activities of the umbanda ceremony. The responsibilities were passed down to his daughter, Irene. A few minutes later, his daughter appeared. Just like Lazaro, she welcomed us with open arms. After a minute or two, she excused herself stating that she needed to prepare for the ceremony. Lazaro too disappeared.
As we sat waiting for the evening activities to commence, I started looking around. Pasted on a door was a sign that stated, “A person should not practice spiritual mediumship without being fully prepared.” My companion, who was also reading the sign, looked at me and smiled in agreement.
Shortly afterwards, people began arriving. As they marched in, they stopped and saluted a large wooden cross located next to where we were sitting. One by one, they touched the cross and bowed their heads in homage.
After paying their respects, they quickly entered a room, which appeared to be a dressing room. One by one, they marched out in full Umbanda attire. The men wore white tops and trousers, while, the women dressed in white blouses and long skirts. In addition, the women covered their heads with a white piece of fabric. Both, men and women, had numerous long colorful beaded necklaces hanging from their necks.
Before the commencement of the Brazilian religion umbanda ceremony, we were escorted to a room that was detached from the main house. We were instructed to remove our shoes and sit in one of the many small benches located around the room. It was the room where the umbanda ceremony would take place. The décor was similar to an African hut with dirt floors and straw dangling from the roof.
As I was making myself comfortable, my eyes zoomed into a sizable altar located on the far left of me. It was an extremely impressive sight. Illuminated by numerous candles, the altar contained several pictures of saints, statutes, and items unfamiliar to me. On the opposite side, hanging on the wall, was a large picture of Yemaya. The other walls were decorated with various spiritual pictures.
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