Sunday 31 October 2010

Umbanda - Part A

FuFu Life in Curitiba - Brazil
24th July 2010 | Part Five

My host, Oldy had planned to attend a ceremony of Umbanda at Santa Cándida with his brother and friends. on my second arrival day in Brazil. Fortunately, i was given a chance to witness and know such splendid ceremony. Here i would like to share Umbanda with you all. To understand the religion and get the pictures of the ceremony, you are advised to spend some time reading and watching all the videos.

"Umbanda is an Afro-Brazilian religion that blends African religions with Catholicism, Spiritism and many other indigenous lore." (Source : Wikipedia)

According to Wikipedia, some of Umbanda's beliefs and most of its practices existed in the late 19th century in almost all Brazil but it's assumed that Umbanda originated in Rio de Janeiro and surrounding areas in the early 20th century, practiced among the poor Afro-Brazilian population. Since then, Umbanda has spread across mainly southern Brazil and even to neighboring countries like Uruguay and Argentina.

Umbanda has many branches, each one with a different set of beliefs and practices. Some of the Umbanda's basic beliefs are the existence of a One Supreme Creator God (the Orixá Olorum). Deities called Orixás related to Catholic Saints that act as God's energy and plain power expansions. Spirits of deceased people that counsel and guide believers through troubles in our material world. Psychics called mediums who have a natural ability that can be perfected to bring messages from the spiritual world and guiding spirits, reincarnation and spiritual evolution through many material lives and the practice of Charity.

The information presented above from Wikipedia is just a general view of all Umbanda branches, so some beliefs and practices here described could be different from those you may observe from the clips below or experience it yourself.

The Umbanda creeds and practices are an eclectic mixture from three main sources:

1. From Catholicism : Umbanda adopted the ideas of Supreme and Only One Creator God, The Gospel scriptures, the cult of saints (associated with the Orixás and their icons, some feasts and the practice of charity.

2. Umbanda adopted the creeds in spiritism as a medium to contact the spirits of deceased people, reincarnation and spiritual evolution through many physical existences, the practice of charity.

3. From the African-Brazilian religions, specially the Macumba rituals practiced by the poor black population in Rio de Janeiro and Bahia states, the Umbanda adopted the worship of incantations practices and most of its rituals (songs, dances, foods, beverages, cigar smoking, divination using sea snail shells – "jogo de búzios").

A less important source of creeds and practices are the Oriental, esoteric and occultism philosophies (e.g., Tarot cards, David's Star, Johrei – healing using the hands). The opposite side of the Umbanda, i.e., the practices that intended to cause evil doings, became known as Quimbanda, although most Umbandists consider Candomblé, a religion closer to the African roots, a kind of black witchcraft. Umbanda is juxtaposed with Quimbanda which now reclaims its identity as a separate, more African religion and distinct from both Umbanda and Candomblé.

One hundred years after its establishment, Umbanda is divided itself into several branches with different beliefs, creeds and practices. Some of these newer streams, such as Umbanda d'Angola and Umbanda Jejê, have a body of rituals, ceremonies and philosophies that makes them closer to other African-Brazilian religions. The Umbanda Esotérica is heavily influenced by Oriental, esoteric and occultism philosophies.

Umbanda has one supreme being related to the Catholic God known as Olorum (or Zambi) and many divine intermediary deities. These intermediary deities are further divided into different legions, phalanges, sub-phalanges, guides and protectors. These groups can then be divided up even further into a multitude of spiritual beings (as you can see the different colours of the rope the followers are wearing).

"Umbanda 是巴西黑人宗教, 融合非洲宗教與天主教, 招魂和許多其他土著傳說."(來源 : 維基百科)

我巴西的Host, Oldy打算出席跟他的弟弟及朋友們去參加 Umbanda的儀式。剛好就在我抵達巴西的第二個晚上. 很幸運我有機會參加以及認識Umbanda這個特別的宗教. 在這裡, 我想與大家分享Umbanda。為了理解Umbanda這宗教和儀式, 建議你花一些時間來閱讀和觀看揭曉來所有影片.

根據維基百科, Umbanda的信念以及行禮在巴西發源於19世紀末, Umbanda起源於里約熱內盧及周邊地區. 剛開始Umbanda都是貧窮的非裔巴西人口開始實行Umbanda的禮儀. 從那時起, Umbanda就漸漸的遍布巴西南部主要向周邊國家, 甚至遍布烏拉圭和阿根廷.

原來Umbanda 也有很多分派, 每一個派們都具有獨特一組不同的信仰和習俗. 但一些Umbanda的基本信念都是由一個至高無上Orixá Olorum 為造物主神.

1. Orixás 主神就是天主教聖徒作為神的能量和普通電源的擴展之一.
2. 死者的精神會引導信徒們順利把這個物質世界的麻煩都給解決.
3. 媒介通靈者擁有天生的能力, 可以通過輪迴和其他精神把物質生活和實踐融入把完善的信息帶出.

上面介紹的信息來自維基百科只是一個普遍的看法是所有Umbanda的分派, 所以一些信仰和習俗在這裡描述的可能會不同, 那就要你自己親自體驗或者從我的短片中自己尋找.

Umbanda 的信仰和習俗的發源是從以下三個主要因素的混合 :

1. 來自天主教:Umbanda通過的想法只有一個最高造物主上帝, 福音經文, 邪教的聖人 (Oixás和他們的神像,一些節日和禮拜).

2. Umbanda 是通過轉世和精神進化而許多物理的存在的信息為媒介來招魂以及聯繫已故人的靈魂.

3. 來自非洲和巴西的宗教, 特別是在里約熱內盧和巴伊亞州由貧窮的黑人實行的Macumba宗教, 跟Umbanda都有相似的崇拜咒語的做法和其他的大部分儀式(歌曲, 舞蹈,食品, 飲料, 吸煙, 用海蝸牛殼占卜).

See how the prayers look like before the ceremony starts.

The devotees would kiss the hand, put it on forehead and then hug.

這個短片, 是祈禱儀式還沒有開始的一個重要的敬礼儀式. 信徒會趴在地板上祈禱, 過後就親吻對方的手, 把對方的手放在自己的前額, 然後互相擁抱. 神父然後就坐下, 其他信徒陸陸續續的進來。

After that, all devotees joined in.

They formed a big circles in from of the followers, dancing and singing.

Paused 0:42, you can see Juliana (Oldy's friend), Oldy (my host), Fabio (Oldy's brother) and Fabio's friend.

這個短片你們會看到很像天主的拜礼儀式和歌頌的環節. 敬礼後信徒們就會陸陸續續的集合在中心的舞臺準備拜礼, 唱歌, 跳舞等等. 神父就負責歌頌以及帶動當場整個氣氛.

p.s. : 0:42出現的是Juliana (Oldy的朋友), Oldy (FuFu的朋友), Fabio (Oldy的弟弟), Fabio 的朋友.

A bucket of burning incenses was then brought to the followers

This custom is just like Buddhism or Hinduism. Right?

Actually the second half this clip, the devotee was offering me to stand on a chair for a better view to take better video. I didn't do so because i wanna move the body with others. LOL

The bible section! Everyone was following the priest.

Priest definitely played a very important role for the whole ceremony. When praying, the devotees would knee down, stick their heads on the floor with both of their hands and holy water would be spreading on them, while the followers would open their hands wide listening or following the prayer. After that, everyone would clap their hands with the prayer accordingly while moving the bodies.

Wanna know what the devotees are praying at? Check out this clip!

Well, they are those similar statues you could find in any church!

If you are watching this clip above, you would basically know the clapping rhythm of Umbanda while moving your body.

Maria... Maria... Maria...

Watch this and you would know what they are singing!

The ceremony of Umbanda couldn't be started without having set of musical instrument specially drums. After watching this clip, you would roughly know how many were us inside this little Umbandan church. And the lady beside me really love and had been moving her body since the beginning till end of first part of the ceremony!

Now they were praying the mother nature.

See how they would 'trigger' their wrists to end a prayer. Interesting.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

PUCPR, Centro and Clubbing

FuFu Life in Curitiba - Brazil
26th July 2010 | Part Four

With Oldy, walking to the bus stop.

Oldy double confirmed if the bus would take FuFu to PUC.

Bus #175, from Centro to PUC. Single bus fare is BRA$2.20 (RM4).

While waiting the bus driver to start the engine.

Alighted at the last stop and saw the university!

The collage of PUCPR FuFu had upload on his Facebook.

PUCPR is 51 years old already.

Surprised? Well, PUC is a Catholic university after all.

FuFu didn't want to be late so he arrived half an hour earlier!

FuFu walked around his new university.

This car park is one of many car parks you can find in the campus.

Heading to the Administrative Building 10mins before 9am.

I had an appointment on 26th July (Monday) with Lydia, a staff i have been contacting for the exchange semester here in Brazil. My host Oldy brought me to the bus stop at Alameda Doutor Muricy. Why? Because i had to take the bus to Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná (PUCPR) to meet Lydia at the office of International Cooperation and Exchanges. She gave me a short and brief introduction of the university, passing all the necessary document to me and got my appointment with my professors arranged.

Lydia then told me that i have to paid BRA$190 (RM347 = US$112) to register my student visa at the Federal Police Department, and i would be given one identification card mentioning that i am a legal resident here in Brazil. To enrolled as an international student at PUCPR, i had to pay another BRA$120 (RM220 = US$71). Also i had to apply for a CPF account at any post office, only BRA$5 (RM10 = US$3), but what the hell, to open a bank account and get a phone's SIM card i need a CPF number. The funniest information i had to report was both of my parents' names!

It was a mess in the beginning, and i was extremely upset as i gotta pay BRA$315 (RM577 = US$186) and get all these shits done which not written on the application form or told before we flew to Brazil. Just i wish they would let me know earlier because i didn't have extra money for this case! Luckily i got them settled within a week with the help from Tatiana (friend's of an acquaintance i met in Germany) and my second and current host, Kenji.

Federal Police controls the immigrations too.

FuFu Identification Card, FuFu is a legal Brazilian citizen.

Next was to apply a CPF account.

Finally FuFu could get a SIM card and open bank account!

I didn't take many pictures but would like to take more pictures of my university when the weather is warmer or probably after i have got my assignment done. Expect another post i would reserve for PUCPR in the near future. Anyway, July was the coldest month (winter in the Southern Hemisphere), Curitiba nevertheless welcomed and greeted me with a warm and sunny Monday. Wanted to know and be familiar with the city well, i spent an hour walking around before going back home for an early dinner with Oldy because i didn't have lunch.

Took the same bus back to the city centre.

So many high-rise buildings here and there at every corner!

It was like walking around Little Manhattan.

Seriously, the city has plenty of friendly side-walks.

Wide. Clean. Lovely floor tile's motif.

Almost all of the roads in the centre are one-way direction.

Felt totally comfortable to walk around!

The locals love popcorn very much! Will explain in other post!

Reversed back.

Heading back home!

But FuFu just couldn't stop snapping.

Some of the streetscapes really look like those you can find in KL.

Except the scene with the tube bus stop!

This street divide the districts of Centro and Sao Francisco.

So at this point, FuFu was in Sao Francisco district.

The apartment is just only two minute walk from here.

FuFu was staying in this building for his first 10days in Curitiba.

Dinner was simple sandwiches with my host's random stir-fried-egg+tomato+onion+capsicum (paprika) filling. We stayed home after dinner because Oldy had to prepare notes for his lecture while i was busy looking for a new room. But after Fabio was back home, he invited me to Emporio with his friend because Monday is buy-one-free-one day until 10pm. Immediately, we registered online with our names and phone number. Oldy followed as well.

The club is just located few blocks away from the apartment. Once we had arrived at 10:25pm, name checked and i was given a card! They got the member card made within half a minute with my name, number and bar code printed. Taking the card, i followed the rest to the cashier. Paid BRA$15 as a prepaid card for drinks. No money associated with the bartender. When you wanna get a drink, pass the card to a bartender and it will be scanned. The amount in the prepaid card will be reduced automatically according to your drinks. So high-tech!

FuFu is the member of Emporio Club, Sao Francisco, Curitiba.

Here is the clip FuFu took on the second floor.

My host and his brother kept flirting around. And i was putting on the chopping board. They used me to get closer to girls, mentioning that i speak only English, from Malaysia and would like to learn Samba. Anyway, we had heaps of fun after all. Learned some simple steps. But the musics, as what you might have seen from the video above, was damn boring. If not the girls, buy-one-free-one Monday, and samba, we would have left earlier. LOL

Monday 25 October 2010

First Lodging and Night in Curitiba

FuFu Life in Curitiba - Brazil
23rd July 2010 | Part Three

** You may want to read Part One and Part Two **

You guys must have been curious and wondering why i would know my host, Oldy. Well, it's a long story actually but i will keep it short here. Before i flew to Curitiba, Erla, my coursemate told me about, an international social-networking platform for a free couch (literally free lodging). And i sent numerous of request to the hosts living in Curitiba. Luckily i got several positive feedback. After a quick selection according to the descriptions of the condition of the houses, and comments left to the hosts, i selected Oldy who is currently living in the heart of the city centre.

Oldy, 37 years old, a parttime lecturer of Physiology, is one kind, friendly and easy going person! I actually, was awed by his adventures at first. Also enjoyed reading his adventures with his bike, his friends and brother, Fabio. He loves travelling, just like FuFu but with his own unique way. Being an active cyclist and with his passion, he successfully did all his travels by his mountain bike, from Central America to Latin America.

After couples of private messages via, i finally decided to stay with him. And he allowed me to stay at his apartment until i had found a nice room here in Curitiba. As time passed, finally i landed Curitiba safely. I called him and informed him when roughly i would hop on the airport shuttle bus heading to city centre once i had purchased a public phone card, BRA$8 (RM14.70 = US$4.70) as what he told me to do in the message. I got off in front of Biblioteca Pública (Public Library). There, i saw Oldy walking to my direction with a smile on his face.

Probably i was carrying my 20kg luggage, the several minutes of journey to the apartment from the point where we hugged was a nightmare, though Oldy carried my backpack bag. What a great relief i sighed once i had arrived the apartment. Only from that moment, i felt like i was in Latin America, finally! It was nearly 1pm, so we decided to have a buffet-styled lunch at Lotus Restaurante (a Chinese restaurant).

I found out later that buffet lunch is quite popular among the local here in Curitiba as there's plenty of this kind (be it Italian, Chinese, Mexican or Brazilian) of restaurants around the city. I expected to have Brazilian food but my host like Chinese food and we were very hungry so ended up eating a lot of dumplings.

Oldy was showing me around the city centre after we had paid BRA$7.50 (RM13.80 = US$4.40) each. Well actually, it was his treat. It was supposed to rain according to the forecast i had check the day before. Fortunately, it only started raining after Fabio, Oldy's brother had come back at around 8pm. Then, Oldy called his girlfriend and others over for a simple welcoming with me. After some chatting accompanied with glass of wine and beer each, i headed to the reading room and called it a long journey to Brazil from Germany.

p.s. : I kept my camera aside with other belongings, so the pictures below are all taken the day after. Due to the privacy reason, i won't upload the pictures of the rooms here. Both my host and his brother are camera shy, and i only stayed with them for a week, i would definitely take few pictures with them before i leave Brazil!

Home sweet home.

After this staircase, everything would be fine!

Lovely neighbourhood FuFu was staying, taken from the balcony.

Simply like the colourful buildings and well-tender pots of flowers.

Small but a neat kitchen.

The living room is also very spacious.

Oh mg god! This caught FuFu's attention once he entered the house.

What a comfy living room ever.

First FuFu thought he would be sleeping on that couch.

This pink building is a souvenir shop. Very expensive.

Seen from the left side of the balcony.

The right side. With no car parking. Very quiet after 8pm.