PRAYERS TO THE ORISHAS
A LOOK AT SANTERÍA
By Diane Elizabeth Caudillo, 2007
Who owns your head? This provocative question means a great deal to many people around the world who practice a religion known as Santería, or alternatively La Regla de Ocha. This tradition originates among the Yoruba people of West Africa, in the area of present-day Nigeria.
A great percentage of enslaved Africans who were taken to the New World were Yoruban— according to David Brown of Emory University, 500,000 Africans were taken into Cuba between 1800 and 1870, and one third were Yoruban or from Yoruban-influenced areas.1 According to Robert Farris Thompson, 40% of all Africans taken from Africa came from the Kongo and Angola regions.2 This fact helps explain some of the traditions observable today in the United States, in the form of yard shows, bottle trees, words like “banjo”- “mbanja” and “goober” (peanut) – “mgooba”. Many popular dance and musical styles – the Charleston, jug bands, jazz – owe their origin to African ways preserved by the descendants of the Africans who survived the Middle Passage. Continue reading
“Macumba” (also known as Quimbanda) is the everyday term used by Brazilians in Rio de Janeiro to describe two types of African spirit worship: Candomble (followed in northern State of Bahia) and Umbanda (a newer form originating in Niteroi in the southern State of Rio de Janeiro).
Macumba originated with enslaved Africans shipped to Brazil in the 1550s, who continued to worship African Gods. Their Gods are called ORIXAS (Orisha). Africans incorporated their religion into Brazilian culture and white European religion (Roman Catholic). They summoned their Gods with their drums. European enslavers, unlike those in the United States, allowed Africans to continue to use their drums. Thus began the rhythm of the saints, the samba, and it explains why Brazilian “batucadas” reign unequaled today. Brazil got the samba, and the U.S. got “the blues.” Continue reading
Candomble is an African-Brazilian religion that has around two million followers. At the core of the religion are the traditional African beliefs of Yoruba, Fon and Bantu. Candomble also has elements of Catholicism. At the center of Candomble is God or Oludumare. Deities called orixas (or orishas) serve Oludumare. Candomble does not have any holy scriptures. Teaching are passed on through initiation.
Candomble means “dance in honor of the gods.” Accordingly, dance and music play important roles in the religion.
The roots of Candomble go back to wold religion before colonialism and European enslavement of Continue reading