December 29, 2002, will be an unforgettable day in the history of Lukumí religion in Miami since none of the more than 600 people than were present at the wemilere given to Shangó in this city will be able to forget it. The blessing and the support of the orishas became evident from very early in the morning, beginning with the itá of the guineas that were sacrificed to Shangó, and continuing with the wemilere, and the visit of a great number of orishas that came to support our cause and to give validity to our event. Modupé or gbogbó orisha! We were graced with the presence of Elegbá, Shangó, Ogún, Oshún, two Obatalá, two Oyá and four Yemojá. Who could ask for anything more pleasing than this?

Shangó

Shangó stressed that something “big” was coming for the world for which we have to be prepared. He announced that many deaths would come and that it would be necessary to cling to one’s faith and devotion in the orishas to face what is coming our way. He recommended that we frequently beseech Olofín for the well-being of humanity. In Fact, he conducted a beautiful ceremony with a white panel that he had asked for days ahead, significant because of its implications as a prayer for peace and the well-being of all who were present. Shangó also said that although the war would not be here in our territory, it was going to have repercussions here. He announced that there will be loss and deaths in the country which will arise through or as a result of the war. He committed himself to beseech Olodumaré on our behalf.

Oshún

Oshún requested that we play to Elegbá three months from the date of this wemilere, and suggested that we play to Armando García, Shangó Dina’s Elegbá since it had been his Elegbá that had been present for this event. She requested that the community unite again for this act. Oshún reminded us that we had to be humbler. That Olorishas are sometimes confused and think that they are deities in their own rights. Oshún says us that we must take the orishas and our religiosity more into account so that we do not suffer the punishment that they can bring.

Ogún

Ogún announced that the war was on its way and that we had to deposit our faith in Olodumaré and the orishas so that we do not suffer great losses. Like Shangó, he announced that attacks would take place in our own country, and that blood could run in the streets of our country. Ogún also spoke of situations that can arise in Cuba and repercussions from this war in Cuba.

Recognition and appreciation

The wemilere that took place this past 29th of December could not have been possible without the collaboration of all the Olorishas and Aborishas that contributed both with money and physical work, since it is a well known fact that to coordinate an event of this magnitude is not an easy thing. The aid lent by all in the space of a month and a half was most visible when more than 600 people marched past the doors of the Rancho Oddu Ará to share in the last wemilere of 2002 and comply with Shangó’s request from our community. Everyone that attended the wemilere clearly went home feeling renewed in their religious devotion and simultaneously relieved with the knowledge that our requests had arrived at the foot of Olodumaré through the intercession of our orishas.

The names are too many and it would be difficult to give credit to all for their aid without forgetting someone’s name. The contributions were also as numerous or even greater still. This makes the process of giving due recognition to everyone an arduous and difficult task. However, I will try to. I want to begin by asking for a thousand pardons given the case that I forget any person. Nonetheless, if I forget, it must be very clear that Egún and the Orishas most definitively will not forget them. In fact, they have to remember them!

As he did last year, Olorisha Roberto Berenger, Osha Lerí, owner of Rancho Oddu Ará, facilitated the farm again so that we could celebrate the wemilere. The generosity and the level of religious conviction have won Osha Lerí- and his employees- a multiplicity of blessings in the past. His attitude continues to be the same, always willing to collaborate with the Lukumí community and to contribute at any moment. The simple magnitude of the event required an ample site with the appropriate facilities to accommodate the great amount of people who we anticipated would attend these events. The Farm Oddu Ará proved to be the ideal place for this.

The second mention doubtlessly must correspond to the person who more arduously worked for this event, iyalorisha Jackie Ben, Oshún Funké. During many long hours she maintained communication with the directors of T.O.L.A (Temple Olorisha Lukumí of the Americas), and between the directors and the community, assuring that nothing escaped her attention to comply with Shangó’s request. Lamentably, the day of wemilere, her mother, Obdulia García, Iná Lojú, was the victim of a stroke. Nonetheless, the stroke did not rob her of the opportunity to contribute for the wemilere and her tutelar orisha. Many days before the event, Iná Lojú had been dedicated to sew the panels that were used by the orishas that visited us. The night before the wemilere, Ina Lojú cooked sweet amalá to offer Shangó and those who visited the event. Lamentably, the ironic games of destiny are sometimes cruel and Oshún Funké and Iná Lojú could not accompany us for the wemilere. Our most profound and heartfelt pleas are with this sister and her dear mother, asking the Supreme Being to be merciful with her.

We are greatly indebted to Obá Oriaté Armando García, Shangó Dina. After several attempts with a few Oní Shangó older than he that reside in this city, that for one reason or another declined our petition to give the wemilere to their Shangó, something we agreed should be done following religious age and hierarchy, Shangó Dina gave us the most honorable and noble answer possible: “Who I am to deny to Shangó the honor that you want to render?” His Shangó was just as noble as he when answering with a firm eyeifé when he was asked with obí if he accepted the wemilere. Also Mrs. Omaida García, Tinomí, Shangó Dina’s wife, deserves all our gratefulness. Both facilitated their house for the sacrifice that was done to Shangó and worked that day with the true devotion of Olorishas that feel a sincere love for our religion. And let it be said that all this without ever even requesting a single cent! Modupé ó Shangó Dina and Tinomí. May Shangó, Yemojá and Olodumaré compensate you with happiness, prosperity and much health for all your collaboration for this event.

Obá Oriaté Roque “Jimagüa” Duarte, Tinibú, and Babalorisha Abelardo Hernández, Oshún Funké were also essential at every moment. Tinibú directed all the ritual aspects and Oshún Funké sat on the mat to take ibo on the day of itá on behalf of our community. Their hands were clean and blessed that day since they communicated to us the iré elese osha- blessings granted by the orishas- and iré arikú- blessings of health that the orishas sent us. What more can we ask for?

The animals that were sacrificed to Shangó were donated by iyalorisha Barbara Yñígo, Ojú Oró, who also collaborated with the event from the beginning to the end. Again Cristina Hernandez, Osikán, facilitated her house for the initial meeting and she allowed us to consult with her Elegbá that indicated to us the will of the orishas. Like she did for previous activities, she lent all her energy to the event so that this it could be successful. Also Olorisha Joaquin “Papito” Mederos, Shangó Larí, and his wife, Maria Mederos, Olorisha Pablo Alvarez, Adé Funké, and Olorisha Omar Fernandez, contributed in so many facets of the preparation that it would require at least two paragraphs to detail all their efforts. My mother- as always in the kitchen!- cooked the amalá ilá that was placed in Shangó’s throne.

We are also very much indebted to Babalorisha Jorge Ortega, Ewín Sholá, who installed a beautiful throne for Shangó. Lamentably, respecting the desire of Shangó Dina who does not like to photograph his orishas, we could not take photos of the throne. However, all those who are familiar with Ewín Sholá’s work knows well enough that the throne had to be a true wonder. Many were surprised by the beautiful work of art made for the throne by Olorisha Robert Torres. Torres and Mauricio Pérez donated the floral arrangements for the throne, something that some of us hesitated about at first since typically flowers are not offered to Shangó. Torres’ work was a true artistic wonder!

Olubatá Ezequiel Torres and his group Ifé Bí Añá, donated their services again, and, like always, they played to their-and our- heart’s content, in their usual, inimitable style. We are once again deeply indebted to aburo Torres and his group for their indispensable cooperation for the success of this event. Lamentably, our sister Olympia Alfaro, Omí Sanyá-may she rest in peace- was no longer among us in body, but I am sure that her spirit accompanied us throughout. In addition, Obá Oriaté Roque “Jimagüa” Duarte, Tinibú, Philbert Armenteros, Obá Irawó, Luís Ruíz, Ikú’dayó, Afimayí Galarraga, Andrew Iglesias, and this humble servant sang in praise of the orishas.

We wish to mention the names of all the people who contributed to this event and to express our most sincere gratefulness for their contribution. There were those who gave money, those who lent their hands, and others that did both things. To all of you, ¡modupé ó! ¡Ki Olorún n’agbé ó!

Alajé Thomas
Alimayú Harris
Andrés Guerra
Aramís Cabrera
Ashabí Thomas—who came to miami from Chicago especially for this event
Bárbara García
Bárbara Pérez & her daughter Jess
Cacha Sánchez
Carlos Bresó Sr.
Carlos Bresó Jr.
Carmen Marrero
Darrick Griffin-who came to Miami from Chicago especially for this event
David Fonr-who came to Miami from Washington D.C. for this event
David Hoft
Diana & Sammy Domínguez
Dorian Hernández
Doris Martínez
Elizabeth y Valentín Llorente
Enrique Hernández
Erik Boone
Eunice Pereira
Flor Decker
Gerardo Durán
Glen Correidera
Graciela Collazo
Henry Pascual
Henry Rodríguez
Ileana Zambrano
Jeff González
Jorge Castillo
Juan Carlos Cabrisas
Juan Martínez
Lázaro
Lázaro Ramos
Lissette Noa
Luis González
Marlene López
Marta Dominguez
Mayra Chala
Migdalia Santos
Milagros Betharte
Nancy Vega
Nelson Hernández
Noel Lugo
Norberto Fernández
Odalis Ibáñez
Olga Ramos
Otto Tianga
Pedro and Annie Alfaro
Popi Cioffi
Ramón Lío
Raúl Piélago
Rita Guerra
Roberto & Michelle Abreu & omo’risha
Tony Acosta
Tony Pena
Willie Zapata
Xiomara Guerra
Yoleise Salomón

Correio da Bahia
Las cartas, los cristales y los búzios indican los sucesos que pueden afectarnos en el 2003
Elieser Cesar

Repleto con esperanzas y planes para una vida mejor, el Año Nuevo es también prodigo en los pronósticos, según los adivinos más sensibles y más dignos de confianza, así como entre los viejo charlatanes que intentan anticipar lo obvio, como el brote de nuevos líderes políticos, de nuevos talentos en el campo de deportes y de las artes, y la muerte de personas famosa. El pueblo está apostando que “el año próximo será mejor”. Los adeptos de Candomblé consultarón los Búzios [caracoles] – el oráculo de Ifá – y los psiquícos consultas las barajas y los cristales para indicar las trayectorias que se abrirán o se cerrarán en 2003.

En el Brasil, el año comenzará bajo muestra de cambio, por lo menos según las promesas de la campaña del presidente electo, Iná÷io Luiz Lula Da Silva. El cambio también ha sido precisado por el Tarot. “En materias políticas tendremos muchos cambios, conceptuales y estructurales también. Habrán más oportunidades para la clase empobrecida, sin embargo, en la primera parte del año, habrá mucho descontento, “dijo la adivina de Tarot Fátima Beth, de la Tenda Oyá, en Itapuã, Salvador.

Mujer – ella dice que no veremos cambios rápidos en la economía, solamente las ojeadas en una posible reducción del desempleo en la segunda mitad del 2003, cuando “las crisis económicas serán aliviadas.” “No creo que Lula vino a traer el sol. Él llega cargando una azada para cosechar la tierra y plantar una semilla nueva. Ésa incomodará a mucha gente,” observó Fátima Beth, quien se especializa en el Tarot de Marsella. Según sus predicciones, en el 2003 se verán altos puntos en asuntos de la ecología y en el sistema de justicia, los cuales pueden ser más convenientes que generalmente.

La lectora del Tarot dijo que el año próximo será dirigido por Venus – la diosa que simboliza los proyectos artísticos, el amor, la afectividad, la belleza y los favores. “El año 2003 será muy favorable a las mujeres y bueno para las artes,” ella garantiza. Para las mujeres, porque después de dos años (2001 y 2002) bajo validez planetaria masculina (Marte y el sol), el año que se acerca tendrá las vibraciones de Venus. “De esta manera será bueno también para los fabricantes y los vendedores de cosméticos, ropas y acesorios de belleza,” ella agrega.

La quinta tarjeta del Tarot es el Papa – “símbolo Kabalistico del equilibrio entre la razón y la intuición, y también representa la responsabilidad y la dirección.” La cartomantica Isley Paiva ya advierte: “Lula debe tener mucha paciencia, porque la desilusión y la ansiedad lo presionarán.” Isley, que se jacta que el 99% de sus pronósticos son veraces, agregó que Lula tendrá divergencias con dos ministros y tres gobernadores. En el mundo de los deportes, Diego y Robinho tendrán más triunfos en el 2003, así como Acelino Popó Feitas que también tendrá buenos funcionamientos. En el mundo del cine, la película “Ciudad del Dios” continuará su trayectoria del éxito. El presentador Gugu liberato, ella garantiza, será padre otra vez.

Tres orixás dirigirán el año

El año 2003 será dirigido por un trío de orixás – Iansã [ Oyá ], Xangô [ Shangó ] y Ogún. Esta predicción fue hecha por el babalorixá Ducho de Ogún, del terreiro Ilê Axé Auá Negy, situado en el da Federação de Engenho Velho, en el Salvador, después de consultar los Búzios temprano ayer por la tarde. “Ogún entregará el gobierno del año a Iansã y a Xangô, pero debido a su rivalidad con este último, él no dejará de influenciar el Año Nuevo,” explica el pai-pai-de-santo-santo.

“Diosa del relámpago, de la oscuridad y de las tormentas, Iansã nos defenderá a todos con su espada. Orixá de la justicia, Xangô, utilizará una llave de oro para abrir y para desbloquear las trayectorias de la humanidad. Él llevará una pluma y un libro para defender en las cortes a los que se acusen injustamente. Con su espada y sus metales, Ogún también reinará. Él permanecerá siempre cerca de Iansã y Xangô,” agregó el pai-de-santo.

Ducho de Ogún dijo que en el 2003, los orixás pedirán paz y misericordia para los hombres. Él afirmó que el presidente electo, Inácio Luiz Lula Da Silva, “debe entenderse con la gente pobre, de modo que las que sufren no tengan que pasar más necesidades.” Después de observar que era no él sino el oráculo que era responsable de los pronósticos, Ducho de Ogún afirmó que Lula encontrará muchas dificultades “al tratar de desneredar todo lo que está allí.” El babalorixá también agregó que los orixás desean la unión de la familia, qué él considera una manera importante de terminar la falta de armonía que existe en el mundo, y pide que las otras religiones respeten al Candomblé. A algunos metros del terreiro de Ducho de Ogún se encuentra una iglesia pentecostal.

Correio da Bahia
Cards, crystals and búzios indicate the occurrences that may affect 2003
Elieser Cesar

Replete with hopes and plans for a better life, the new year is also prodigal in forecasts, according to the most sensible and trustworthy seers, as well as the old charlatanism who try to anticipate the obvious, as the sprouting of new political leaders , new talents in the field of sports and the arts, and the death of famous people. The laypeople are betting that “the next year will be better”. The adepts of Candomblé cast the Búzios [cowries] – the oracle of Ifá – and psychics consult the cards and the crystals to indicate the paths that will open or close in 2003.

In Brazil, the year will start under the sign of change or movement, at least according to the campaign promises of president-elect, Inácio Luiz Lula Da Silva. Change has also been pointed out by the Tarot. “In political matters we will have many changes, conceptual and structural as well. There will be more opportunities for the impoverished classes, however, in the first part of the year, there will be much dissatisfaction,” said Tarot diviner Fátima Beth, of Tenda Oyá, en Itapuã, Salvador.

Women – She says that we will not see rapid changes in the economy, but glimpses at a possible reduction of unemployment in the second half of 2003, when “the economic crises will be alleviated.” “I do not believe that Lula came to bring the sun. He arrives carrying a hoe to till the soil and to plant a new seed, that will bother many people,” observed Fátima Beth, who specializes in the Tarot of Marseilles. According to her predictions, 2003 will see high points in ecology and the Justice system, which may be more expedient than usual.

The Tarot reader said that the next year will be guided by Venus – goddess that symbolizes the love, affectivity, beauty and favors artistic projects. “The year 2003 will be very favorable to women and good for the arts,” she guarantees. For women, because after two years (2001 and 2002) under masculine planetary validity (Mars and the Sun), the year that approaches will have the vibrations of Venus. “In this way it will be good also for manufacturers and sellers of cosmetics, clothes and beauty accessories,” she adds.

The fifth card of the Tarot is the Pope – “Kabalah symbol of the balance between reason and intuition, also representing responsibility and leadership.” Already the reader Isley Paiva warns: “Lula must have much patience, because disillusionment and anxiety will depress him.” Isley, who brags that 99% of her forecasts are true, added that Lula will have divergences with two ministers and three governors. In the world of sports, the Diego and Robinho will have more triumphs in 2003, as well as Acelino Popó Feitas who will also have good performances. In the world of cinema, the film “City of God” will continue its trajectory of success. E the presenter Gugu liberato, she guarantees, will become a father again.

Three orixás will guide the year

The year 2003 will be guided by a trio of orixás – Iansã [Oyá], Xangô [Shangó] and Ogún. This prediction was made by babalorixá Ducho de Ogún, of the terreiro Ilê Axé Auá Negy, located in Engenho Velho da Federação, in Salvador, after consulting the Búzios early yesterday afternoon. “Ogún will hand over the year’s regency to Iansã and Xangô, but because of his rivalry with the latter orixá, he will not cease to influence the new year,” explains the pai-de-santo.

“Goddess of lightning, of darkness and of storms, Iansã will defend us all with her sword. Orixá of justice, Xangô, will use a golden key to open and to unblock humanity’s paths. He will bear a quill and a book to defend in the courts those who are accused unjustly. With his sword and his metals, Ogún will also reign. He will always remain close to Iansã and Xangô,” he added.

Ducho of Ogún said that, in 2003, the orixás will ask for peace and mercy for the men. He affirmed that the president-elect, Inácio Luiz Lula Da Silva, “must have understanding with the poor people, so that those that are suffering do not have to bear any more necessities.” After observing that it was not he but the oracle that was responsible for the forecasts, Ducho de Ogún affirmed that Lula will find many difficulties “to disentangle everything that is there.” The babalorixá also added that the orixás want the union of the family, what he considers an important way to end the disharmony in the world, and asks that other religions respect Candomblé. A Pentecostal church is only a few meters from Ducho de Ogún’s terreiro.

Correio da Bahia
Cartas, cristais e búzios apontam os acontecimentos que podem marcar 2003
Elieser Cesar

Repleto de esperanças e planos para uma vida melhor, a virada do Ano-novo é também pródiga em previsões, das mirabolantes às mais sensatas e confiáveis, passando também pelo exercício do velho charlatanismo de tentar antecipar o óbvio, como o surgimento de novos líderes políticos, novos talentos nos esportes e nas artes e a morte de pessoas famosas. Os leigos se arriscam a apostar que “o próximo ano vai ser melhor”. Os adeptos do candomblé jogam os búzios – o jogo de Ifá – e os esotéricos consultam as cartas e os cristais para apontar os caminhos que se abrirão ou se fecharão m 2003.

No Brasil, o ano começará sob o signo da mudança, a julgar pelas promessas de campanha do presidente eleito, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. É para a mudança também que aponta as cartas do tarô. “Na política haverá muitas mudanças, tanto conceituais como em sua estrutura.Teremos mais oportunidades para as classes menos favorecidas, porém, numa primeira etapa, haverá ainda muita insatisfação”, prevê a taróloga Fátima Beth, da Tenda Oyá, em Itapuã, em Salvador.

Mulher – Ela diz que não haverá mudanças rápidas na economia, mas vislumbra uma redução do desemprego na segunda metade de 2003, quando “as crises econômicas serão mais aliviadas”. “Eu não acredito que Lula veio para trazer o sol. Chegou com uma enxada, para remover a terra e plantar uma semente nova, que vai incomodar muita gente”, observou Fátima Beth, especializada no Tarô de Marselha. Segundo ela, 2003 será um ponto alto para a ecologia e para a Justiça, que poderá ser mais rápida.

A taróloga disse que o próximo ano será regido por Vênus – deusa que simboliza o amor, a afetividade, a beleza e favorece os projetos artísticos. “O ano de 2003 será muito favorável à mulher e bom para as artes”, garante. Para a mulher, porque depois de dois anos (2001 e 2002) sob vigência planetária masculina (Marte e Sol),o ano que se aproxima terá as vibrações de Vênus. “Desse modo será bom também para a área de cosméticos, do vestuário e da beleza”, acrescenta.

A carta 5 do tarô é o Papa – “simbologia cabalística do equilíbrio entre a razão e a intuição, representando também responsabilidade e liderança”. Já a taróloga Isley Paiva alerta: “Lula deve ter muita paciência, pois desilusões e ansiedade poderão deixá-lo deprimido”. Isley, que se gaba de acertar 99% de suas previsões, apontou que Lula terá divergências com dois ministros e três governadores. No esporte, a dupla santista Diego e Robinho farão mais sucesso em 2003, enquanto o pugilista Acelino Popó Feitas também terá bom desempenho. No cinema, o filme Cidade de Deus continuará sua trajetória de sucesso. E o apresentador Gugu liberato, garante ela, será pai novamente.

Três orixás vão reger o período

O ano de 2003 será regido por um triunvirato de orixás -Iansã, Xangô e Ogum. A garantia foi dada pelo babalorixá Ducho de Ogum, do terreiro do Ilê Axé Auá Negy, no Engenho Velho da Federação, em Salvador, depois de consultar o jogo de búzios, no começo da tarde de ontem. “Ogum entregará a regência a Iansã e Xangô, mas que, por ter ciúme desse último orixá, não deixará de influir sob o novo ano”, explica o pai-de-santo.

“Deusa dos raios, das trevas e das tempestades, Iansã estará com sua espada para defender todos. Orixá da justiça, Xangô estará com a chave de ouro para abrir e destrancar o caminho dos homens. Empunhará também a caneta e o livro para defender a todos nos tribunais. Com sua espada e seus metais, Ogum também não deixará de reinar. Ficará sempre por perto de Iansã e Xangô”, acrescentou ele.

Ducho de Ogum disse que, em 2003, os orixás vão pedir paz e misericórdia para os homens. Afirmou que o presidente eleito, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, “deve ter compreensão com o povo pobre, para que as pessoas desassistidas não passem mais necessidades”. Depois de observar que não era ele, mas o jogo de búzio o responsável pelas previsões, Ducho de Ogum afirmou que Lula vai encontrar muitas dificuldades “para desembaraçar tudo o que está aí”. O babalorixá informou ainda que os orixás querem a união da família, como forma de acabar com a desarmonia no mundo e pedem para que as demais religiões não invadam a privacidade do candomblé. A poucos metros do terreiro de Ducho de Ogum há uma igreja pentecostal.

Sun Sentinel
By Vanessa Bauza
vmbauza1@yahoo.com

HAVANA BUREAU

EL RINCON, CUBA · The wide-eyed boy straddling his father’s belly stares expressionless into the raucous crowd that surrounds him on this moonlit pilgrimage to the church of San Lazaro. His father, Fidel Valladares, is lying on his back on this country road, bloody shoulders to the asphalt, pushing himself and 5-year-old Joan toward their destination. They’ve inched two miles in six hours. Only one mile to go.

Valladares, his son and wife, Marisol Barrios, are paying a promise to Saint Lazarus, the cherished patron saint of the sick, who they say cured Joan of a disease that swelled his head with water until he could no longer support it. Today, Joan is in kindergarten, a perfect little boy, and the family attributes his recovery to their yearly pilgrimages on the eve of Dec. 17 for midnight Mass at the simple, white sanctuary.

“After we made the first promise with the boy we never had problems again,” says Barrios, 36, a nurse.

Down the road, another family moves slowly toward the church. Only they are followers of San Lazaro’s parallel Yoruba deity, Babalu Aye, one of the most venerated healing deities in the Afro Cuban pantheon.

“Who will light my candle?” asks Jacqueline Perkins, 35, in a singsong voice as she rolls lengthwise toward the church pushing a cardboard box full of change. “Who will give an offering for my old Babalu Aye?”

Perkins’ hair is matted, her face and arms scratched. Her best friend sweeps the road ahead with a tree branch as fellow pilgrims stop to offer sips of rum and encouragement.

“May you receive everything you ask for,” says one man.

Like Joan’s parents, Perkins believes Babalu Aye saved her son Adonis from the same head-swelling disease.

Miracles are commonplace on this particular road, on this particular starry night. Each year thousands of Cuban pilgrims and penitents walk, crawl and drag heavy rocks for miles, sometimes days, until they reach the church on the outskirts of Havana.

Some go to see San Lazaro, others Babalu Aye. In Cuba, where Roman Catholic saints blended centuries ago with Yoruba deities brought by West African slaves, the distinction seems unnecessary to many.

The parallel faiths bleed into one another. Each deity, or orisha, has a corresponding Catholic saint, producing a religious syncretism that is distinctly Cuban.

Mystic beliefs filter easily into daily life. Every new year begins with a prediction by more than 600 of Cuba’s most venerated Yoruba high priests who get together to read the sacred seeds of the African Ope tree, which forecast the year’s fortunes. Drivers tie little red ribbons to their cars’ exhaust pipes to secure the protection of Santa Barbara, or the fiery Chango, as her corresponding Afro Cuban orisha is known.

Many homes have a prickly cactus leaf hanging over the front door to ward off the evil eye. Inside some have altars, ranging from the inconspicuous to the elaborate, with offerings to their orisha of choice. Oshun, or the Virgin of Charity, is a sensual love goddess who likes sunflowers and honey. Yemaya, symbolized by the Virgin of Regla, is the protector of the seas. She prefers melons and the color blue.

Santeria, as the Afro Cuban religions are known collectively, was driven underground after the 1959 revolution along with all other religions. In the mid-1990s the Cuban government loosened its grip on religion and Santeria practitioners once again began wearing their colored beads in public.

“Now believers are doctors, lawyers, engineers,” said Natalia Bolivar, a scholar who has written extensively about Afro Cuban religions. “About 70 percent of the country has something to do with this [Afro Cuban religion]. And that’s a cautious estimate.”

As protectors of the most humble, the sick and the needy, Babalu Aye and San Lazaro hold a special place for Cubans.

The road to El Rincon is part carnival, part religious revival. Some are here for faith, others festivity. The air is chilly and pungent with cigar smoke, diesel exhaust and the smell of manure.

Serene stretches cutting through open pastures are interrupted by country villages that come alive during the yearly procession.

Hip-hop and salsa blare from wooden and concrete homes where revelers dance. And a few cardboard cut-outs of Santa Claus, once considered a bourgeois import, even appear in some homes.

Stalls along the way are decorated with blinking Christmas lights and vendors hawk everything from plastic saint’s statues, to candles, cigars and steaming platefuls of fried rice and spaghetti.

Edwin Lastre, who makes his living selling figurines throughout the year, can sell up to $150 worth of religious supplies on a good day, more than 10 times an average Cuban’s salary. But this year hasn’t been as profitable as others.

“People aren’t buying,” he says. “There’s little money on the street.”

A group of two-dozen Protestants passes out pamphlets and beats drums. Baptists, Methodists and other evangelical congregations have grown in Cuba in recent years, as they have across Latin America.

“Their idolatry is not correct,” says Hector Albin Soto, a Baptist referring to devotees of Babalu Aye. “I hope by the grace of God someone can find the truth.”

By design or by providence, the road to El Rincon runs directly in front of Havana’s oldest AIDS treatment center, the Sanatorium Santiago de las Vegas, which opened in 1986, when doctors diagnosed the first HIV cases on the island.

A high metal fence separates pilgrims from patients, some of whom huddle around glowing candles and small statues of San Lazaro all night, watching the procession.

The shrine’s bells toll at midnight. Some pilgrims fall to their knees in prayer while others push their way into the church, desperate to leave their offerings at the altar.

Crushed by the wave of people, one woman drops her statue of San Lazaro, cracking its base on the steps to the church. Another, wrapped in a burlap sack, yells “promises have priority, promises have priority!”

Many more, like Tomas Joglar are still on the way. The 74-year-old street sweeper is dragging a 20-pound stone tied to his left ankle as he pushes himself along the country road. He says he has visited the church this way for 53 years, since San Lazaro restored his ability to walk.

“Even the priest was surprised,” recalls Joglar, whose eyes seem to shine from his sooty face and full, gray beard. “I left my wheelchair and crutches at the church.”

Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Del periódico El Nuevo Herald
Associated Press
La Habana

Miles de cubanos se preparan esta semana para ir arrodillados y vestidos con atuendos violetas a rendirle tributo a una deidad heredada de la fusión entre las culturas hispana y africana, a la que unos le dicen San Lázaro y otros Babalú Ayé.

El 17 de diciembre los cubanos irán a la localidad del Rincón, en la provincia Habana, para hacer promesas, pedir favores, agradecer milagros o simplemente orar ante el dios.

”Ese día de cada año, por la tarde, voy al Rincón, por mi hija”, contó a la AP, Enrique, un obrero de la construcción que no quiso dar a conocer su apellido.

La antropóloga Natalia Bolívar dijo a la AP que “la tradición de hacer promesas a San Lázaro es muy profunda y arraigada en la isla, se le ofrendan cosas porque es el milagroso, el que cura las enfermedades”.

Según los especialistas, este sincretismo es el mejor ejemplo del sentimiento religioso y étnico de la isla, porque en él se sintetizan las influencias hispana y africana que marcaron su religiosidad.

Se considera a Babalú/San Lázaro especialmente la deidad que da consuelo a los enfermos de lepra y de la viruela, así como a la que le piden quienes padecen enfermedades venéreas y de la piel.

Los historiadores opinan que eso se debe a que un icono de San Lázaro fue llevado en el siglo XVI a una zona de La Habana en donde se había confinado a las víctimas de esas dolencias.

”San Lázaro es una creencia que viene de España: para la Iglesia Católica, el 17 de diciembre es el día de ese santo, el de la parábola bíblica de San Lucas, identificado como el hombre harapiento con los perros que le van lamiendo las llagas”, manifestó la especialista.

En Cuba durante la Conquista, los esclavos africanos adjudicaron a los santos católicos las atribuciones de sus propios idolos: la Caridad del Cobre es Ochún, la Virgen de Regla es Yemayá y la Virgen de las Mercedes es Obatalá, según explicó Bolívar.

Se calcula que alrededor de 200,000 personas hacen la peregrinación.

Alejandra Rivas, una oficinista de 38 años quien tiene una hija de 8, contó: “Yo nunca he ido al Rincón, pero algún día tendré que ir con la niña, porque mi mamá siempre me dijo que iba a llevar a la niña para cumplir una promesa, pero falleció antes de hacerlo”.

Sandra Villacampos, una funcionaria de 43 años, relató: “Tengo una vecina que va todos los años a cumplir la promesa de su hermano que se fue a Estados Unidos en los años 80”.

En otros países Babalú Ayé es también una deidad conocida: En Haití como Legba Pied Cassé; en Santo Domingo, Legba; en Trinidad y Tobago, Sakpana y en Brasil, Omolu, Shapanan, Sakpata, Obaluaie y Alapo.

From Miami’s El Nuevo Herald
Associated Press
Havana
Translation by Willie Ramos with the help of Google’s translator

Thousands of Cubans prepare this week to go on their knees and dressed in varied tones of violet to pay tribute to an deity inherited from the fusion between Hispanic and African cultures, that some call San Lázaro and others Babalú Ayé.

On the 17th of December Cubans will go to the town of Rincón, in Havana province, to make promises, to request favors, to give thanks for miracles or simply to pray before the god.

“That day of every year, in the evening, I go to Rincón, because of [ a promise made on behalf of] my daughter,” said Enrique, a construction worker who did not want to give his last name.

Anthropologist Natalia Bolivar told AP that “the tradition to make promises to San Lazaro is very deep and is rooted in the island, they make offerings to him because he is miraculous, he cures diseases.”

According to the specialists, this syncretism is the best example of the religious and ethnic feeling of the island, because in him are synthesized the Hispanic and African influences that mark their religiosity.

Babalú/San Lázaro is considered the specific deity that consoles leprosy and smallpox patients, as well as the deity appealed to by those who suffer from venereal diseases and skin infections.

Historians think that this association results from the introduction of an icon of San Lázaro that was taken in the XVIth century to a zone of Havana where victims of these ailments had been confined.

“San Lázaro is a belief that comes from Spain: for the Catholic Church, the 17th of December is that saint’s day, the Lazarus of Saint Luke’s biblical parable, identified as the ragged man with the dogs that walk beside him licking his sores,” said the specialist.

In Cuba during the Spanish colonial era, African slaves ascribed to the catholic saints the attributes of their own idols: Our Lady of Charity is Ochún, the Virgin of Regla is Yemayá and Our Lady of Mercy is Obatalá, explained Bolivar.

It is believed that around 200,000 people make the pilgramage.

Alejandra Rivas, a 38 year-old office clerk who has an 8 year-old daughter recounted: “I have never have gone to Rincón, but someday I will have to go with my daughter, because my mother always said that she was going to her to fulfill a promise, but passed away before doing it.”

Sandra Villacampos, a 43 year-old civil employee said: “I have a neighbor that goes yearly to fulfill a promise made by her brother who has been in the United States since the 1980s.”

In other countries Babalú Ayé it is also a well-known deity: In Haiti he is known as Legba Pied Casse; in the Dominican Republic, Legba; in Trinidad and Tobago, Sakpana and in Brazil, Omolu, Shapanan, Sakpata, Obaluaie and Alapo.

Jornal do Brasil Online
Verão de Salvador abraça um mundo de celebrações
Bruno Agostini

Salvador announced the onset of a series of catholic and African celebrations that will become another means to attract people to the city this summer. The marathon of faith related activities began with the celebration of Ours Lady of the Immaculate Conception last Sunday. The most concurred celebrations are the Procession of Our Lord of the Navigators, the washing of the steps of the Church of Bonfim, and the seaside offering and celebrations for Iemanjá.

Honoring the fishing tradition of the city, the ceremonies of Our Lord of the Navigators and Iemanjá are maritime processions that pay tribute to the entities that during the year are believed to bless the fishing trade by providing an abundance of fish and protection against the dangers of the sea.

Also known as Celebration of the Good Voyage, the Procession of Our Lord of the Navigators is the apex of the New Yera’s commemorations at the Boa Viagem Beach. In the morning of the first day, hundreds of boats follow the Galeota Gratitude do Povo – with the image of The Good Jesus of the Navigators – from the Command wharf of the second Naval District, in front of the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of the Beach. The procession finishes at Boa Viagem Beach, in front of the Church of Our Lady of Boa Viagem – after having paraded by the Barra lighthouse.

The Lapinha celebration takes place on Three Kings Day and initiates the countdown for the washing of the steps of the Church of Bonfim – the second thursday of the year, the 16th of January. The event will begin at midnight of the 5th of January when the Three Kings will parade through the streets of the Historical Center until the nativity scene that was mounted by the congregation of faithful from the Church of the Lapinha.

Some years the Diocese of Salvador forbade the presence of trios for the ritual commonly known as the “washing of the steps of the Church of Bonfim.” However the celebration will continue to have melody, directed by a procession of Bahianas, that will begin at the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of the Beach to the staircases of the Church of Our Lord of Bonfim. As they sing to Oxalá, syncretized with Our Lord of Bonfim, the Bahianas will wash the stairs and the church’s plaza with their brooms and perfumed water.

The Rio Vermelho fishing community awaits the 2nd of February with anxiety. But it seems that all Bahia is in line to leave their offerings in wicker baskets that in the late afternoon will be tossed into the sea during a procession made up of hundreds of boats. Later, the celebration continues until the multitude’s last breath, in the best Bahian style.

– All religions that work for the good of humanity and speaks of love and justice deserve support. The PT respects Brazilian culture and Candomblé is part of our country’s roots – it said.

The president of the Brazilian Federation of Umbanda and Candomblé, Pai Paiva, does not agree with this handling of the religion. For him, Umbanda does not have to be mixed with politics.

– This only cause conflict. I never saw any “work” to elect anobody. The candidate who works more and presents the best proposal is the one who is elected – he argues.

In the Federal District, Candomblé has about 80 thousand adepts. The official federacy of the religion has 2,560 members. Paiva believes that the work of the umbandistas to favor Magela is pure opportunism.

– The 50 pais-de-santo that will be participate in this event do not represent the true body of the movement. I will be that they are not even members of the Federation.

According to Paiva, umbanda must contribute to the charity and not politics. He explains that the purpose of Candomblé is to propagate the good. (Larissa Guimarães Collaborated for this article)

Jornal do Brasil Online
El verano en Salvador abraza un mundo de celebraciones
Bruno Agostini

Salvador anunció el inicio de una serie de celebraciones católicas y africanas que se convertirán en otros medios de atraer personas a la ciudad este verano. El maratón de actividades relacionadas a la fe comenzó con la celebración de La Inmaculada Concepción el domingo pasado. Las celebraciones más concurridas son la procesión de Nuestro Señor de los Navegantes, el lavado de las escaleras de la iglesia de Bonfim, y las ofrendas y procesión en el mar para Iemanjá.

Honrando la tradición de pesca de la ciudad, las ceremonias de Nuestro Señor de los Navegantes y la de Iemanjá son las procesiones marítimas que pagan tributo a las entidades que durante el año se cree bendicen el comercio de la pesca proporcionando una abundancia de pescados y protección contra los peligros del mar.

También conocida como la celebración del Buen Viaje, la procesión de Nuestro Señor de los Navegantes es el ápice de las conmemoraciones del año nuevo en la playa de Boa Viagem. Por la mañana del primer día, los centenares de barcos siguen la Galeota Gratitude do Povo – con la imagen del Buen Jesús de los Navegantes – desde el embarcadero del comando del segundo distrito naval, delante de la iglesia de La Inmaculada Concepción de la playa. La procesión acaba en la playa de Boa Viagem, delante de la iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Boa Viagem – después de pasar por delante del faro de Barra.

La celebración de Lapinha ocurre el día de los tres reyes magos e inicia la cuenta descendiente para el lavado de las escaleras de la iglesia de Bonfim – el segundo jueves del año, el 16 de enero. El acontecimiento comenzará en la medianoche del 5 de enero cuando los tres reyes desfilarán a través de las calles del centro histórico hasta la escena del pesebre que fue montada por los fieles de la iglesia de Lapinha.

Algunos años atrás la diócesis de Salvador prohibió la presencia de tríos para el ritual conocido comúnmente como el “lavado de las escaleras de la iglesia de Bonfim.” No obstante la celebración continuará teniendo melodía, dirigida por una procesión de Bahianas, que comenzará en la iglesia de La Inmaculada Concepción de la playa hasta las escaleras de la iglesia de Nuestro Señor de Bonfim. Entonando cantos a Oxalá, sincretizado con Nuestro Señor de Bonfim, las Bahianas lavarán las escaleras y la plaza de la iglesia con sus escobas y aguas perfumada.

La comunidad de pescadores de Río Vermelho aguarda el 2 de febrero con ansiedad. Pero tal parece que toda Bahía está en la línea para dejar sus ofrendas en las cestas de mimbre que serán echadas al mar durante la procesión del 2 de febrero compuesta por centenares de barcos. Más adelante, la celebración continúa hasta una vez agotada las multitudes, en el mejor estilo Bahiano.

– Todas las religiones que trabajan para el bien de la humanidad y hablan de amor y justicia merecen apoyo. El PT respeta la cultura brasileña y Candomblé es parte de las raíces de nuestro país – dijo.

El presidente de la federación brasileña de Umbanda y de Candomblé, Pai Paiva, no conviene con esta dirección de la religión. Para él, Umbanda no tiene que ser mezclado con política.

– Esto solamente causa conflicto. Nunca vi ningún “trabajo” para elegir a nadie. El candidato que trabaja más y nos presenta la mejor opción es el que se elige- él discute.

En el distrito federal, Candomblé tiene cerca de 80 mil adeptos. La federación oficial de la religión tiene 2.560 miembros. Paiva cree que el trabajo de los umbandistas al favor de Magela es puro oportunismo.

– Los 50 pais-de-santo que participarán en este acontecimiento no representan el cuerpo verdadero del movimiento. Seguramente ni son miembros uniformes de la federación. Según Paiva, la umbanda debe contribuir a la caridad y no a la política. Él explica que el propósito de Candomblé es propagar el bien. (Larissa Guimarães colaboró para este artículo)

Jornal do Brasil Online
Bruno Agostini

Salvador’s summer embraces a world of celebrations

Salvador announced the onset of a series of catholic and African celebrations that will become another means to attract people to the city this summer. The marathon of faith related activities began with the celebration of Ours Lady of the Immaculate Conception last Sunday. The most concurred celebrations are the Procession of Our Lord of the Navigators, the washing of the steps of the Church of Bonfim, and the seaside offering and celebrations for Iemanjá.

Honoring the fishing tradition of the city, the ceremonies of Our Lord of the Navigators and Iemanjá are maritime processions that pay tribute to the entities that during the year are believed to bless the fishing trade by providing an abundance of fish and protection against the dangers of the sea.

Also known as Celebration of the Good Voyage, the Procession of Our Lord of the Navigators is the apex of the New Yera’s commemorations at the Boa Viagem Beach. In the morning of the first day, hundreds of boats follow the Galeota Gratitude do Povo – with the image of The Good Jesus of the Navigators – from the Command wharf of the second Naval District, in front of the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of the Beach. The procession finishes at Boa Viagem Beach, in front of the Church of Our Lady of Boa Viagem – after having paraded by the Barra lighthouse.

The Lapinha celebration takes place on Three Kings Day and initiates the countdown for the washing of the steps of the Church of Bonfim – the second thursday of the year, the 16th of January. The event will begin at midnight of the 5th of January when the Three Kings will parade through the streets of the Historical Center until the nativity scene that was mounted by the congregation of faithful from the Church of the Lapinha.

Some years the Diocese of Salvador forbade the presence of trios for the ritual commonly known as the “washing of the steps of the Church of Bonfim.” However the celebration will continue to have melody, directed by a procession of Bahianas, that will begin at the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of the Beach to the staircases of the Church of Our Lord of Bonfim. As they sing to Oxalá, syncretized with Our Lord of Bonfim, the Bahianas will wash the stairs and the church’s plaza with their brooms and perfumed water.

The Rio Vermelho fishing community awaits the 2nd of February with anxiety. But it seems that all Bahia is in line to leave their offerings in wicker baskets that in the late afternoon will be tossed into the sea during a procession made up of hundreds of boats. Later, the celebration continues until the multitude’s last breath, in the best Bahian style.

– All religions that work for the good of humanity and speaks of love and justice deserve support. The PT respects Brazilian culture and Candomblé is part of our country’s roots – it said.

The president of the Brazilian Federation of Umbanda and Candomblé, Pai Paiva, does not agree with this handling of the religion. For him, Umbanda does not have to be mixed with politics.

– This only cause conflict. I never saw any “work” to elect a nobody. The candidate who works more and presents the best proposal is the one who is elected – he argues.

In the Federal District, Candomblé has about 80 thousand adepts. The official federacy of the religion has 2,560 members. Paiva believes that the work of the umbandistas to favor Magela is pure opportunism.

– The 50 pais-de-santo that will be participate in this event do not represent the true body of the movement. I will be that they are not even members of the Federation.

According to Paiva, umbanda must contribute to the charity and not politics. He explains that the purpose of Candomblé is to propagate the good. (Larissa Guimarães Collaborated for this article)

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