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Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ iii ] (from Spanish: ‘the saints’) The generic term for a group of African gods in Cuba, and their devotion in a syncretic cult which elides African and Roman Catholic elements ( see C reole/creolization ). Many Y oruba O rishas are identified with Catholic S aints. Shopana, the Yoruba god of smallpox, is associated with Lazarus and all skin diseases. All the spirits in Santeria have very distinctive appearances, characters and tastes. Shopana enjoys maize; he wears clothes made of jute; he needs to use crutches. Shango ( see S ango ) wears red-and-white beads, likes to eat ram and is associated with St Barbara. In order to encourage a spirit to possess a devotee, the animal appropriate to that spirit is sacrificed. This is called ‘feeding the gods’. Other African-derived elements are drumming, dancing and singing. The system of divination strongly resembles the Yoruba I fa system, although the orishas may differ from those in Africa in character and qualities. The Abakwa Society of Santeria is directly related to the Egbo Society of Calabar and is a mutual aid society for young men, markedly African in language and dance. After the Cuban revolution of 1958, President Fidel Castro suppressed Santeria as he did the Roman Catholic church, but as Cuban refugees from his regime dispersed, especially to the USA, they took Santeria with them. [7; 71; 86] ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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