The Regla Conga or Palo Monte

Saturday, January 20th 2024. | Afrocuban, Religions

This religious expression in has its roots in the cults practiced in the kingdom of Congo and other subordinated monarchies of Bantu origin. The western ethnology gathered under the same denomination the community of peoples from western, central and south Africa, that spoke that language in any of its forms. It is also known as Mayombe.

This regla (norm or rule) is the result of a process of cross over of the Bantu creeds in the Cuban society, where other forms also emerged, as the Kimbisa and the Brillumba up to the Kimbisa of the Nice Trip Holy Christ (Kimbisa del Santo Cristo del Buen Viaje), organized by Andrés Facundo de los Dolores Petit, in the 19th century.

A characteristic feature of this rule is the link with the natural forces. It is considered that some elements as the vegetation are animated by the spirits, who also reside in the depth of the earth. The ancestors are represented in the water. The center of the ceremony is the Nganga, recipient where is supposed to be the soul of the dead submitted to the initiated will through a pact nourishing both of them.

The possession of the Nganga or prenda (credit) give the possibility to make an unlimited use of it, since it is the distinguishing element of the top hierarchy. The Tata Nganga or TataNkisi is the one tha can make the ceremonies of rayamiento (initiation) and gather around him a group of religious persons.

The Tata is supported by lower hierarchies of consecrated persons, as the Bakofula ayonfombe and the Ngueyo, who with the other “ahijados” (godchildren) conform the House. This structure is autonomous in the celebration of its ritual and ceremonies.

The graphic sacred symbols (signs) have an important place in the Regla de Palo. They are used to identify the spirits of the ancestors and the orishas to whom is request the permission to celebrate the diverse ceremonies of the cult. In the Kimbisa cult there is a strong syncretism and tolerance between the Congo element, the Regla de Ochathe Spiritismthe Catholicism, and the secret masculine society Abakuá. They took the concepts related to the nganga from the religion of Bantu origin, the animism of the plants, the water and the earth, as well as the influence of the spirits of the ancestors. It is possible to find orisha from the Ocha but under different names (Elggua is Lucero MundoYemaya is Tiembla Tierra; Oya is Centella)

The assimilation of the use of the coconut shell in the divination process, and the believe of feeding and strengthening the prenda with blood. It takes the direct assimilation of the spirits from Spiritism, based on the idea that everything happening in earth it is ruled by external forces.

The influence of Catholicism is present in the worship to the holy spirit and the use of the cross and prays of the catholic ritual. Besides, the main guide of the followers of the Kimbisa is Saint Luis Beltrán. The abbakuá element is in the method to select the applicants. The practice of the Regla de Ocha or Mayombe have been name as sorcery, due to the lack of information about it.

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