The Yoruba people, who were brought over from Nigeria as slaves, came to the Caribbean in the 1500’s with their own religion, which was seen as unfit by the white slave owners. Most plantation owners in the Caribbean were members of the Roman Catholic Church, so they forced their slaves to disregard their native religions and become Catholic. Soon, the slaves realized that they could still practice their West African religion as long as it was disguised as Catholicism, and Santería was born. Now it’s practiced in the United States, Cuba, the Caribbean, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Argentina, Colombia, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Great Britain, Canada, Venezuela, and Panama.
Based on Santería, people are born under a guardian Orisha, or saint, that must be worshipped throughout life. Each Orisha is an aspect of one supreme god. The seven main Orishas are known as the Seven African Powers. Eleggua is the gatekeeper between life and the afterlife in heaven and is the connection between the Orishas, humans, and god. He is very powerful because without him, there would be no communication between humanity and the saints. The Catholic Saint that is associated with Eleggua is Saint Anthony, and the colors associated with him are red and black.
Obatala is acknowledged as the parent of the Orishas and all of humanity, the creator of the world, and the enforcer of justice. He is linked with qualities of intelligence, harmony, compassion, and purity, so his color is white. In Catholicism, he represents the saint Our Lady of Mercy. According to legend, Obatala would consume so much palm wine while forming the bodies of babies who were going to be born, that many of them were born deformed. He was told by his spiritual guide, Olofi, that he wasn’t allowed to drink palm wine while performing his most important job. Now, any child who his born with a defect is considered to be a child of Obatala, so taunting them isn’t allowed.
Yemaya is the spirit of...