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Babalochas and Iyalochas: Center of the santería

They are the fathers (babá in Yoruba language) and mothers (iyá) of the saint (ocha). They are the center of the Cuban santeria.

After several years of the initiation, and after obtaining the "licence" and the ache (gift), from the orishas, the consecrated can support other person who have to go on the saint ceremony, either voluntarily or by the indication of the oracles.

The consecrated will guide and advice them on their practices and cults as well as in their private and social life. Many years of relation with people and their problems, provide them of a great wisdom to solve their godsons and consultants diverse situations. Despite their strict austerity, they win a high prestige among believers. The babalocha or the iyalocha are the ones in charge of founding out the saint that should crown the head of the future devotee.

This consultation to the oracle is made through a ritual known as "bajar el caracol". This is a rigorous research because the head of the new initiated member should only have the corresponding saint as father or eledda (guardian spirit), otherwise it will bring serious difficulties at the moment of the initiation ceremony and in the religious and personal life of the devotee.

Once they become godparents of the saint ceremony, the babalocha or the iyalocha prepares in his/her house an altar where the godson will live during seven days and nights.

The god son will reborn to a new life in a ritual of initiation, where the main ceremonies are secret. During that week the godparents will receive the help of other persons with different hierarchy within the religion. For example, the Oriaté, to read the Itá and conduct the ceremony, the Yimbona or Oyugbona who guides and helps the initiated in their actions. The babalochas and iyalochas could have several hundreds of godsons, some have even a thousand, but they are not all initiated devotees.

There are aleyos ( they register to solve a problem), of collar( only receive collars), of pray (they make the ebbó, made under their heads or any other part of the body to avoid tragic consequences).