Differences between Candomblé and Umbanda

The Candomblé is a monotheistic religion that believes in the existence of the soul and the afterlife.

The word “candomblé” means “dance” or “dance with atabaques” and worship the orixás, normally revered through dances, songs and offerings.

Differences between Candomblé and Umbanda

Candomblé Umbanda
Strong hierarchy The hierarchy is not so rigid
5000 years of existence Founded in the 20th century
Performs animal sacrifices in specific ceremonies Does not perform animal sacrifices
There is only incorporation of entities, but the orixá does not speak, does not give consultations, only gives axé (blessing). Only the father and / or mother of a saint give advice and consultations through Ifá, from Búzios. It incorporates embodied entities, that is: spirits that have lived on earth. These give consultations and advice directly to the customer. There is no incorporation of the orixá.
Being a father and / or mother of a saint is equivalent to the Catholic priesthood. Therefore, it is difficult for them to have a common life, as there are a number of dietary restrictions, dress and attitudes. The priest does not need to dedicate himself exclusively to Umbanda.
To support themselves, candomblé houses charge for work done. It does not charge for services.

History of Candomblé in Brazil

Jorge Amado, writer, kisses the hand of Mãe Menininha do Gantois, considered the greatest saint-mother in Brazil

Candomblé is the practice of African beliefs brought to Brazil by enslaved people. Therefore, it is not an African religion, but Afro-Brazilian.

Therefore, the history of Candomblé is mixed with that of Catholicism . Forbidden to continue with their religion , slaves used the images of the saints to escape the censorship imposed by the Church. This explains the syncretism found in Candomblé in Brazil, something that is not seen in Africa.

Nowadays, however, many candomblé houses do not accept syncretism and seek to return to African origins. Likewise, in the Brazilian version, we have a mixture of orixás from various regions of the African continent.

This is due to the fact that the blacks who landed to be slaves were from various parts of Africa. Each Orixá represents a force or personification of nature and also a people or a nation

Candomblé, as a religious practice, gained clear contours in Bahia in the middle of the 18th century and was defined during the 20th century. Currently, there are millions of practitioners throughout Brazil, reaching more than 1.5% of the national population.

In order to preserve this heritage of African culture, Federal Law 6292, of December 15, 1975, made certain Candomblé terreiros a material or immaterial heritage that could be listed.

Candomblé Rituals

Aspect of a Candomblé ceremony

Candomblé rituals are, as a rule, performed through songs, dances, drum beats, offerings of vegetables, minerals, objects and, sometimes, sacrifice of some animals.

Participants must wear specific costumes with the colors and guides of their orixá, and each has their own day, color, objects and specific foods, appropriate to their ritual.

A ritual can bring together tens to hundreds of people, varying according to the size of the house that performs the duties and parties. On these occasions, there is a great concern with hygiene and food, as everything must be purified to be worthy of the orixá.

Usually, Candomblé rituals are practiced in houses, gardens or terreiros, which can be of matriarchal, patriarchal or mixed lineage. Consequently, the celebrations are led by the “father or mother of saint” or ” babalorixá ” and ” iyalorixá ” respectively.

It should be noted that the succession of these spiritual leaders is hereditary. However, there may be strife in the succession, which often ends up closing the yard.

Finally, it is worth remembering that the followers of Candomblé take seven years to complete their initiation within the stipulated precepts.

Orixás do Candomblé

Some of the Orixás worshiped in Candomblé

Orixás are entities that represent the energy and strength of nature. They play a key role in worship when they are incorporated by more experienced practitioners.

They have specific personalities, abilities, ritual preferences and natural phenomena, which give them different qualities and strengths.

The unique God of Candomblé may vary according to the African region of origin. For Ketu it is Olorum, among Bantus it is Nzambi and for Jeje it is Mawu.

There are hundreds of Orixás, however, the most worshiped in Brazil are:


Meaning ball
Day of the week Monday
Colors red (active) and black (knowledge absorption)
Salutation Laroiê (Save Exu)
Instrument seven irons attached to the same base, facing upwards


Meaning war ( gun )
Day of the week Tuesday
Color dark blue (metal color when heated in the forge)
Salutation Ogunhê, Hello, Ogum
Instrument iron sword


Meaning night hunter ( oxó , hunter; ossi , nocturnal)
Day of the week Thursday
Color turquoise blue (color of the sky at the beginning of the day)
Salutation The Kiarô! (” okaaro ” means good morning, in the Yoruba language)
Instrument ofá (bow and arrow)


Meaning one that stands out for its strength
Day of the week Wednesday
Colors red (active), white (peace), brown (the earth)
Salutation Kaô Kabiesilê; come to see being born on the ground
Instrument oxé (double-bladed stone ax) (Oyá)


Meaning nine (she had nine children)
Day of the week Wednesday (or Monday)
Colors red (active and fire) or brown (the earth)
Salutation And I stopped! – Hi! Jovial and cheerful or What a beautiful sword!
Instrument iruexim (iron or copper cable with a ponytail)


Meaning river flowing through Oxogbo, Nigerian city
Day of the week Saturday
Color golden (yellow)
Salutation Now ieiê ô !; play in the waters
Instrument baby (mirror)


Meaning queen
Day of the week Wednesday
Color red
Salutation Obá xirê! – powerful, strong queen
Instrument dagger


Meaning acclaimed prince ( Odé, relationship with Ogum and Edé , connection with Oxóssi)
Day of the week Thursday
Colors turquoise and yellow (golden)
Salutation Loc, loc, Logum! Shout your war cry, warrior prince!
Instrument ofá (bow and arrow) and abebê (mirror)


Meaning originally néné / nana / nanã
Day of the week Tuesday
Colors lilac or white streaked with blue
Salutation Saluba Nanã! – Hail, owner of the Earth pot!
Instrument ibiri (cane species)


Meaning king, lord of the land
Day of the week Monday
Colors white (peace and healing), black (knowledge) and / or red (activity)
Salutation Atotô! Oto, Silence!
Instrument xaxará (kind of magic stick)


Meaning divine light
Day of the week Tuesday (or Thursday)
Colors green (healing) and white (peace)
Salutation Me, I bake! – Oh, leaves!
Instrument seven-pointed metal rod, with a pigeon in the center


Meaning the one who moves with the rain
Day of the week Tuesday
Colors yellow (knowledge) and green (health)
Salutation Arruboboí! – gbogbo, continuous
Instrument metal snake


Meaning iya , means mother; Omo , son; and Eja , fish
Day of the week Saturday
Colors white and blue (translucent crystal)
Salutation It hurts! (odo, river)
Instrument baby (mirror)


Meaning White light ( oxa , light; and ala, white)
Day of the week Friday
Color white
Salutation Hey, Nanny! – Save it, dad!
Instrument paxorô (kind of staff)

Ibeji / Erês

Meaning ib means to be born; and eji , two
Day of the week Sunday
Colors all
Salutation Beje eró! – Call them both!
Instrument There is not


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