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Santeria is a religious practice similar to Vodoun. The religion centers around ancient African gods who have been assimilated as Catholic saints. ‘Santeria’ comes from the Spanish word ‘santo’ meaning saint; practitioners are called ‘Santeros’ (female, ‘Santeras’).
Like Voodoo, Santeria came to the Americas with the millions of black slaves from West Africa, principally from the Yoruban tribes along the Niger River. Forced to convert to Catholicism, the slaves continued their religion in secret, passing along the ancient traditions either orally or in handwritten notebooks called ‘liretas’. Gradually, the Yorubans began to see what they believed were the incarnations of their gods into the Catholic saints and syncretized the two faiths. Soon the Spanish and Portuguese slaves’ masters became interested in the Yoruban magic and begun practicing Santeria themselves. Today, any large city with a large Hispanic poulation has many Santeros as well as devoted Catholics because many practice both religions or a combination. New York, Miami, Los Angeles and the countries of Cuba and Jamaica are Santeria strong holds. Brazilians practice it under such names as Candomble, Umbanda, and Quimbanda.
Originally known as the way of saints is a religion that originated in present Nigeria and Benin, has Afro-Cuban roots and is followed by people around the globe. It is also named as the Lucumi religion and is a synergism between the Catholicism and Afro-Cuban religion. It is believed to be connected with the Orisha which is the mortal spirits.
Santeria has its history rooted back to the Yoruba people of the West Africa who were slaves and were brought from Africa to Cuba, Nigeria, Trinidad etc. There is a belief that they connected Catholicism to their Lucumi religion when they were forced to convert to Catholicism but it is proved that the two religions went parallel and the followers followed their native religion.
The Yoruba people have a rich culture and civilization that was filled with ethics and harmony. Though, they didn’t have any manuscript or written books of their morals, values, and teachings, so they teach and spread their religion verbally.
The basic concept and center of attention for the religion is the concept of ache which is also called the spiritual energy. The practitioners aim to attain a higher ache so they could modify and purify their spirits and get harmony by serving the humanity.
The religion is not polytheistic,that is there is no concept of many gods. The religion has one supreme God and there are three names for him, i.e. Olofi, Oluron and Olodumare. Olodumare is the one who created the world and everything in it, Olofi is the one who owns the heaven and Oluron is the manifestation of the Sun.
People from all over the world have some connections to this religion somehow. In America, people with African dynasty are rapidly converting to this religion. About 75 to 100 million people practice this religion today and the number of followers is increasing day by day.
The religion is an incorporation of several faiths into one so it is called the synergism of faiths. It beholds the belief of imparting power and wisdom that is necessary to face the troubles and hardships of life.
The religion focuses on building strong and beneficial relationships between spirits and humans. The Orishas are the spirits and people believe that once can change the course of his destiny if he maintains a healthy harmony with the Orishas. They can only be alive if they are worshiped and lived by the human kind.
The religion has a very close and profound association with Catholicism since many figures are related to Catholicism, including the Saint Barbara and Saint Lazarus who justify the strength, justice and sick respectively. Ochun the lady of charity of the Yoruba people is associated with food, money, luck, water and love.
Why you should follow it
Nature works in a balance. Only the one who has a balanced inside and a balanced outside lives a peaceful and healthy life. The religion focuses on developing harmony and strength between the people and the spirits as well to create a peaceful world. A person who maintains a healthy balance with nature tends to benefit the others and him as well. If you are having troubles with your life such as stress, job and marriage issues, spiritual issues or something related to religion, the Santeria priests are always there for you to help and guide you to the lighter and brighter parts of life.
Finding a right, productive and authentic path in life is necessary in order to have a spiritual and beneficial life.