Candomble Overview

January 19, 2013 · updated February 15, 2022

Candomble Fast Facts

Founders: Indigenous Africans who were brought to Brazil as slaves Founded: Prior to, or during, the 16th century
Location: Mostly Brazil, but adherents also in Central and South America and Europe
Number: Approximately 2 million worldwide {1}

What is Candomble?

Candomble is a religion found primarily in Brazil that is strongly influenced by religions from Africa, which came to Brazil by means of the slave trade from the 16th to 19th century. Candomble is found in small numbers in Uruguay, Argentina, Venezuela, Columbia, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Practices of Candomble

Adherents of Candomble practice surrender to "Oriashas" - which are spirits - to the point of possession. Followers also conduct various sacrifices to spirits and call on spirits to heal them as well.

The Candomble religion teaches that some Oriasha spirits are deceased Catholic saints. Sociologists believe this is a result of religious syncretism, which combines religions brought from Africa with the teachings of Catholic missionaries in Brazil.

The Candomble mass involves celebration, animal sacrifice, and spirit possession. Commonly, Candomble priests summon spirits and surrender to them, often succumbing physically to their control, while music plays and people dance.

Beliefs of Candomble

Concerning ultimate reality, Candomble is polytheistic, meaning they believe in many gods. There is one chief god, according to Candomble, whose is called Olodumare (also known as Olorun). This is a distinction between Candomble and Umbanda (religionfacts article). Deities can often be traced to spirits from African religions and Catholic saints.

There is also a branch of Candomble that has strong Islamic influence, which comes from slaves who were brought to Brazil from North Africa at a time when Islam dominated the region. Adherents to this branch, who are called “Males” have different beliefs and practices than other followers of Candomble. The interact with different spirits, have different holy days, and dress similar to Muslims in the Middle East.

Candomble Temples

Like in Umbanda, Candomble temples are often called terreiros, but they are also called casas (i.e. “houses”) or (i.e. “plantations”).

“Temples” are often the homes of Candomble followers. Inside, shrines and altars to various spirits can often be found.

Candomble temples are led by priests and priestesses.



  2. Beraba, Marcelo. O Terreiro da Contradicao.


  • Religion in Brazil
  • Umbanda
  • Christ the Redeemer (statue)
  • Voodoo