My faith in umbanda is a road that leads to a great Light, which is the light of the Father. It is charity, it is love. It is believing that people can live better than living on their own, without a religion, and the Umbanda brings everything that is spiritual, everything that is from the Holy Spirit.
Pai Nenê, director of the Father Joaquim das Almas Umbanda temple
Umbanda comes from multiple sources: on the one hand, it combines rites and values that represented candomblé, as well as other african derived cults and even Catholicism. As well as this, it includes a process of religious re-interpretation under the logic of the kardecist spiritism. If candomblé seeks to reconstitute pieces of Africa in Brazil, umbanda seeks to, through the middle and lower classes of society, remake Brazil using its syncretic capacity.
It absorbed and preserved elements of other creeds, like Catholics saints, kardecist’s traces such as spiritual evolution and spiritual conversation, as well as dances, instruments and rituals similar to African cultic elements. Thus it is formed the um-banda (one-band), grouping in a single form many different elements of all “bands”.
This condensation of rituals represents, aside from the search for an authentic Brazilian religion, an attempt to structure its practices, becoming an institution and demanding a legitimate space in society, alongside other religions. The next step was, in the 40’s, the creation of federations, aiming at better ways of promoting the creed, sponsorship of the religious ceremonies, regulation over the ritual and doctrinal practices and legal support against different forms of persecution.
Umbanda seeks the spiritual development of the mediums and the entities with which it seeks to interact – old slaves spirits, native Indians, gypsies, etc. For that, one of the main traces of Umbanda is the communication between the supernatural sphere with material reality, via the incorporation of spiritual entities in an initiated human body, called horses. It is though this communication that such spirits ascend in their evolutionary process towards perfection, rendering assistance, via the mediums, to those who go to the sessions looking for advice, spiritual purification or any other manner of assistance.