Santería or Regla de Ocha

Thursday, January 25th 2024. | Afrocuban, Religions

When you listen to the term santeria, dont think about the saints of the Catholic Church, but on the believes of different ethnic groups of the Yoruba African culture that arrive to Cuba during the traffic of slaves.

The Santeria or Regla de Ocha was formed in the western provinces of the Island at the end of the 19th century, and in the 30s it extended to the eastern provinces.

In this creed the orishas (deities) and the ancestors are worshiped, their main functions are to protect their devotees and guide their lives. In order to take decisions and have certain behaviours, the believers use the interpretation of the ample conceptual paradigms gathered in myths, legends, proverbs and sentences that characterized each deity.

The relationship spirit-fetish–magic has an especial place in this religious expression. The otanes (stones) are objects symbolizing the supernatural power of the orishas worshiped.

The ceremonies are also diverse, and have several objectives: initiation, propitiatory (ebbó), divination (oracle) and funerary (itufo). They express the concepts, ideas and religious representation of the devotees, who celebrate them regularly. The babalawo is the top figure in the hierarchy. He is followed by the babalochas( godfathers in the santeria) and the iyalochas( godmothers).

They are in charge of making the ceremony of consecration and to support the devotees. The oriaté are specialized on the reading and interpretation of the oracle Diloggún (snail), which deals with the elimination of the (itá), taboos the devotee will suffer during his/her life after the initiation.

The obba is another important figure. Its function is to supervise the consecratory ritual; on the other hand, oyubbona or yimbona accompanies and guides the newly born in all his/her actions during the seven days that last the ceremony to become a saint.

The devotees are organized in independent groups, beginning on the base of the religious family (godparents-godsons), it continues in the religious house (form by several families), and it can derive in to an independent branch. Havana has well known branches as: Ainayobo, Aldewaro, Ashakún, Atun, Awapitico, Oddun Tawade, Tillako, Ochailu, Maleque the great and Maleque the small, etc. Every group has a religious leader.

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