Santeria is a belief system that has its roots in Yoruba land, West Africa. During the times of slavery, in the 17th century, this belief system took a journey from West Africa to Cuba. These days the religion is widespread and practiced all over the Caribbean, Latin America and mainland United States of America, even in Europe. Yet there is still much fear, mystery and misunderstandings Santeria.
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She bends down, releases it into the water as an offering and watches as it floats away. The skies have cleared just long enough for this small ceremony. Video by Jonathan Mejia. The offering — in other rituals it might have been a rooster or a duck — is a common practice in Cuba. This juxtaposition is the essence of syncretism, a term meaning that concepts and belief systems of two religions are combined — in this case, Spanish Catholicism and the orisha-centered religion of the West African Yoruba tradition. You are believing in the Yoruba God. You believe in all because God is one. This, he said, makes it distinct from Catholicism.
It is believed that access to the orisha s can be achieved through various types of divination. As a result of these ceremonial exchanges, the oracle often determines that one particular orisha has claimed the devotee as its child. In the crowning ceremony, the symbols of the patron orisha are placed on the head of the devotee, and he or she may enter a ceremonial trance and become a medium for that orisha. Through the bodies of their mediums the orisha s are believed to interact with the congregation directly and heal and prophesy for those who approach them. From the Cuban Revolution of to the early 21st century, nearly one million Cubans left the island, bringing Orisha religion to cities throughout the Americas, particularly Miami and New York. The tradition also spread to other Latino communities , African Americans, and white Americans.
Santeria is a fusion of Catholic practices and African folk beliefs. It emerged in Cuba during the 17th century, and has been embedded in Cuban society ever since. Slaves from West Africa were imported to Cuba in the 17th century, and they brought their religious tradition with them. The slaves were banned from practicing their own religion, so they disguised their gods as Catholic figures and continued to pray to them as they pleased. Fidel Castro is even rumored to be a believer. That may be in part due to an auspicious event that happened during his victory speech on January 8, While Fidel was addressing the crowd, two doves flew over the podium, and one of them landed on his shoulder. Not surprisingly, many people took this as a sign that God wanted Fidel to lead Cuba. In the minds of many Cubans, the two religions parallel one another, rather than existing as one unified religion.