The majority of Burundians are Christian: about
60% are Roman Catholic and 5% are Protestants. About 1% are Muslims
and the rest practice traditional indigenous beliefs. Current laws
allow freedom of worship for all.
The early German and Belgian missionaries introduced Christianity to Burundi. Missionaries not only converted people to Christianity, but also gave them a European-style education. Today, Christianity is still the dominant religion, but people in rural areas, where there are few churches, often cannot attend church regularly. In some rural areas, priests perform weddings at the home of the bride or groom, because there is no church nearby.
Many Burundians, including most of the Twa people and
some Christian Burundians, maintain indigenous beliefs which include forms
of animism. Animists believe that inanimate and natural phenomena, as
well as living creatures, have souls and spirits. Imana is the
creator of the universe and source of all good. When people die, their
spirits are honoured and referred to as imizimu. Certain rituals
are believed to control uncertainties and negative influences in life.
This can be achieved by harnessing positive forces from ancestors or other
spirits and by limiting negative forces.
Animist rituals may be performed to cure a person who is ill, to prevent a drought or a flood, to obtain a good harvest or to ensure good luck for a newly married couple. The kubandwa is performed to exorcise bad spirits which cause problems and to invoke good spirits to help solve a problem. During the ceremony, participants shake an inyagara (a rattle made from a calabash gourd).