Importance of religious terreiros for communities in Fortaleza | life and art

Photo: Aurelio Alves
Bey Iran, Bey de Santo who lives in Bom Jardim district

Umbandas, Candomblés, Batuques, Jurema, Catimbós, Enchantment, Terecôs, and Omolocôs: Master of wisdom, Ifá teaches that Exu was born before his mother, preceding all creation. When the knowledge of black ancestors crossed the Atlantic, embroidered on the skins of enslaved peoples, faith reinvented itself as a possibility of life in the face of the misery of white colonialism. in Umbanda terreiros with their fathers and mothers of the saints; And in Candomblé, with Babalorixás and Ialorixás, Exu opens the way for each house to be a crossroads of collective knowledge.

In religions of African origin, terreiros leaders are spiritual patrons of the Holy Land and serve a primary function: the relationship of spaces of faith to their neighborhoods and communities. Since 2014 at the helm of the Mãe Tutu spirituality tent, Mãe Telma has been building bonds of care and solidarity in the Luciano Cavalcante neighborhood. “Our relationship with the surrounding community has always been one of great respect. They always welcomed us with open arms and were able to build a relationship of friendship. As gratitude, we created the Nosso Alimento project, where we distribute 40 monthly baskets to families in the community. Before the pandemic, these shipments were delivered in the tent, Together with soups and lectures on the most diverse topics, always striving to strengthen these bonds.Another moment of great importance to us is the children’s party, held in honor of Ibjes, São Cosme and Damiao.On that date, the backyard of Terreiro was full of color, hosting A party to celebrate the lives of children, with games, games, clowns, food and lots of sweets.” .

“Terreiros are designed for communities, because we are Umbanda practitioners inside and outside of the sacred homes. What we learn from our guides and from our orixás must be practiced in life in all areas. Building a relationship between terreiros and territories is extremely important. That people know, learn, experience, and realize that Our religion, above all, calls for love, justice, equality and social struggle, so that people know where to find terreiros, so that they know that we exist and we resist, and that they know that there is religious diversity, so that they can access other ways of living spirituality, so that they have the opportunity to break prejudices and taboos resulting from religious racism,” pleads Mai Thelma.

A fringe black woman, Thelma has earned respect in all the spaces she made up through hard work. “My relationship with Umbanda was born after a very difficult time in my life… I had two young daughters, I was unemployed and without support, even without furniture at home, and I had to sell it to pay bills and buy one night, my youngest daughter, who was Delirium with fever, by the name of Tutu Then, for the first time, I saw, for the first time, an old black woman in front of me. After that, I sought help in a spiritual center and went to talk to a friend who explained to me that Mai Tutu was an old black woman. Through her I was introduced to the Umbanda house where I worked Mai Tutu and embraced religion. In all honesty, I never wanted to be the mother of a saint. However, I did not know that this path was already written. And through dreams and guidance from spirituality I was called to mediocre work. In 2014, the tent of Mother Tutu Spirituality was born” . In addition to the terreiro, Mãe Telma also operates a junkyard. “I have occupied and will occupy all the places I can occupy. I will leave no place vacant!”

At Grande Bom Jardim, occupy the streets with faith and welcome everyone – regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation – always directing Pai Iran do Nego Chico and Pai de Santo in the Spiritual Assembly of Umbanda Caboclo Índio. “Terrero is a welcome place, and Umbanda’s science is that we are all equal. We respect diversity and nature. For this reason, we develop synthesis work, service, consultation, information. All are welcome,” Chark said.

At 1153 Rua André Soares, in Jardim Jatobá, Terreiro de Pai Iran developed a training work with groups of adolescents and young adults on the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases in 2005. Respecting women’s rights and combating homophobia are also the guiding principles of the spiritual house. “I have many friends of Umbanda who have already experienced difficult situations, verbal violence, and religious racism. But on the street, our relationship is marked by a lot of respect and partnership: We watch party times and tours, talk to the neighborhood,” he reports.

One of the first residents of the street, Bey Iran is part of the neighborhood’s history. “I was introduced to Umbanda at the age of seven, and my father was also a practitioner. In 1999, I was crowned as the father of a saint and the following year I opened my house. I have been doing this spiritual work for 22 years,” he recounts. The father of Iran Firmino of Santo, better known as Antonio Loro in Grande Baume Jardim, was loved for his participation in the local culture: playing carnival, dancing in the June squares … Today, the pupil wishes to form a spiritual association for the Umbanda Caboclo Indian reference in the arts. The spiritual pastor is also involved in the Association of Souls of Umbanda São Miguel, an entity distinguished by its committed social work.

In religions of African origin, pedagogy at the crossroads teaches that no one walks alone – faith, after all, is the understanding that “whatever we know, we know among and for all.” In the myths of the Yoruba, one of the most populous ethnic groups on the African continent, an old saying goes that “Exo killed a bird yesterday with a stone that he threw only today.” Faith also reinvents the past and cultivates a desire for tomorrow.

“The function of terreiro as a territory is to preserve culture”

Last March, Ceará acquired an important set of data and information about the traditional peoples, temples, and roots of the African and Afro-Brazilian Matrix culture in the state, implemented by the Afro-Brazilian Association of Alagba Culture. The project, supported by the Secretariat for Agricultural Development (SDA) of the Government of Ceará, originated the book “IWÉ – Inventário dos Povos de Terreiro do Ceará”.

With extensive work developed in 14 college districts, the project collected nearly 500 interviews and scripted in Ceará. The research field coordinator, art educator Ogan Lino Farias, stresses that the work is an ongoing search to break out of the shadows in public policies. The result is available at

People: Your mother, a great reference in Umbanda, was the first Brazilian Saint Mother to be awarded the title of Living Treasure of Culture. How was your approach with candomble? What space are you incorporating today?
Lino Farias: Candomble is the remnant of the African arrays that reached Brazil. This word “candomble” is of Bantu origin, one of the many Bantu languages ​​that are spoken and ended up naming what we call traditional societies, candomble terros in Brazil. I have been from a traditional society since I was born, because my family already belongs to the sixth generation of terreiros. I got close to Candomble because I visited Terreiro and found it so interesting, it touched me, I saw that there was a reconnection with my African roots and I decided to return to these communities. Since I was already from a terreiro, it was easier to get close because there is a recognition of belonging. My Candomblé house is located in Salvador, Bahia, and it’s called Ilê Axé Omindá. In my traditional community, I am Ogan and my job is to sing and play for my grandfathers and grandfathers. I am a fighter in the movement with this passage of Afro-Brazilian and Terrero cultural expressions since 1994.

OP: How is the relationship established between terreiros and spirit homes with their neighborhoods and communities?
Lino: There are two perspectives: the first is the perspective of the region; The second is regional. This territoriality can also be understood as ancestral lands. The question of land is the land in its physical space, in construction, identity, and ancestral preservation. Therefore, the traditional society of African origin is one that preserves the traditions of the centuries. In the case of Terreiro my wife and family Terero, Ilê Axé Omindá, we are Yoruba people, so we preserve the culture of these peoples preserved in singing, dancing and music as a whole, in the aesthetics of clothing, clothing and accessories, in terms of cooking and other cultural practices – such as prayer. People often say that we have our own food, clothes, clothes, language, and, above all, we still pray. Terrero’s job as a region is to preserve this culture, not let it end. The issue of territoriality covers the area around terreiro, about 5 km. Terreiro dialogues with the needs of its surroundings, providing security and food security; provides health from a vision based on the traditions of these peoples; Dialogues with Understanding Needs on Social Protection from Shelters Terreiro welcomes transgender women and CIS countries, for example, welcome community demands regarding dialogues with the government. There are terranes that promote citizenship measures such as psychiatric care, social assistance, lawyers… Terreiro is a living museum space. Regarding the space of the ancestors, it is related to the cosmic vision. There are semi-urban, rural, and urban spaces that are considered sacred by these communities. Examples include the jackfruit tree in Lagoa da Maraponga, where an African ancestor is revered; Another is the Paseo Publico baobab. There are no lakes, rivers and waterfalls in terreiros, but they are part of our ancestral lands. This issue of territoriality permeates this identity construction.

OP: What stood out most in the process of mapping terreiros and spirit homes across the state to prepare an inventory of traditional African-American peoples and communities?
Lino: The process of building this inventory was arduous. Since 2012 we’ve been in the fray, trying to do this research…initially it’s going to be a mapping of Fortaleza and the metropolitan area, but after a conversation we had with Governor Camilo Santana in 2018, we were able to give a public notice based on the Secretariat for Agricultural Development (SDA). We have needed, for a long time, a socio-cultural and economic diagnosis of these societies in order to be able to build public reform policies. Based on this notification, we were able to visit 14 large areas in 57 municipalities. In all these municipalities, we applied questionnaires to these communities and identified needs: water issue, family agricultural production, food security, culture and public security. We have gone through a complex process of religious racism and this racism leads to physical assault and land assault. We found Tereros to have no potable water; Societies that produced agriculture, but had no means of promoting this work; Societies that have come under attack…but we also find societies that build positive policies around them, provide culture, education, and integration into the labor market. We built the public policy and that was very interesting and interesting. It was not possible to map all terrain in Ceará, but we took 494 communities in a total of 528 visits in 14 large areas.

OP: How can the inventory contribute to the creation and implementation of public policies for the peoples of terreiro?
Lino: What is lacking now is the sensitivity of the government in implementing these policies. This will reach the secretariats, and hopefully, based on this diagnosis, we can establish and build positive compensation policies and public policies for the traditional peoples and communities of Terreiro, together with the government and with those coming.

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