Religion in Cuba: Santa Barbara

By: Jose Mauricio

Cuba is a very unique country. Its culture has been enriched by all the peoples that arrived during the colonization years: the Chinese, the Spanish, and the Africans. Here, the Yoruba religions are wide practiced and the study of the syncretism and its development through the centuries takes place at every hour. You have to take this into account if you plan to come to Cuba to spend your vacation time and knowing this, you will easily notice all the syncretic aspects that underlie in the Cubans? daily life.

In the western coast of Africa, in the territories of Nigeria, is the Sacred City of Ife, the cradle of the world for the Africans, where the religion is born; their cults, due to the infamous trade of slaves moved to the New World and they settled down here; so the slaves settled down with an own liturgical body, without depending on anything or keeping some subordinated relationship with that origin place, that is to say, the Sacred City of Ife.

The Rule of Ocha in Cuba is not subject to the guide or spiritual government of the Obbas of the African Continent, because it is highly a Creole product; seated in the beliefs originating of the Continental Africa. It does not depend on the high religious bosses or Obbas of Nigeria and Dahomey. In the Rule of Ocha, each house-temple establishes its bases of agreement individually with the teachings of its ancestors. The bases of the Santeria neither originate in the Catholic Church. In Cuba, by the middle of the 19th century, a reorganization of the Santeria for the first time is known, with the reunification of the cults to specific orishas brought to this earth by the black enslaved Africans, originating of regions where different orishas prevailed.

December 4th is in Cuba the Santa Barbara's day (Saint Barbra) and it is a great party for all the people that believe in her. Santa Barbara is the Catholic saint, but also the devotes to Chango, the orisha deity that the slaves adored and that she had much similar to Santa Barbara celebrate this day enthusiastically.

In the town Guines, very near Havana, her church was set, when a Spanish Priest brought the same image that still stands out there. On December 4th the town is full with people that are devotes. It is a great party of the town and from the previous day people go arriving to pray or to pay promises. Many personalities of the Cuban culture participate, including the Minister OF Culture Abel Prieto.

This is a party that if you attend you will never forget. If you happen to be in Cuba in December, try to go to Guines, if you are really far and cannot get there on time, just ask and probably you are going to be invited to experience all the rites that take place in a house where this saint is highly praised. This is a new experience for sure!

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