Santeria and Lukumi Religions Practiced by Hispanic Caribbeans

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Santeria and Lukumi Religions Practiced by Hispanic Carribeans

Religious origins:

The Yoruba religion was brought to the Hispanic Caribbean approximately four hundred years ago by African slaves during the period of conquest and colonization of the new world. The religion remained traditionally strong among the African community until the Spanish conquerors began to prohibit its practice. When the Spaniards reached the New lands they brought with them the religion of the reigning King. That is Queen Isabella's religion; Catholosism. The conquerors forced the slaves to accept the Catholic faith as their new religion. The African, stripped already of their dignity refuse to give up their religious beliefs, this belief being all they brought with them. Knowing of the negative ramnifications, punishment and sometimes even death if caught "devil worshipping" it meant that in order to continue to worship theri Gods the angry Africans had to find a way to practice thier religion. They astutely hide theri religion behind Catholic religious practices and saints.

The religion is therefore called "Santeria" or the way of the saints. According to Migene Gonzalez-Wippler Santeria is neither a cult or a sect. "It is a monotheistic religion, where God is seen as the creator of the Universe and of humanity. The orishas, syncretized with catholic saints, are repositories of God’s powers and the mediators between humanity and the Supreme Being. During this same period the Lukumi religion was also developed. The Lukumi religion is very similar to that of Santeria, while Santeria utlizes the Catholic Saints and prayers for ritualistic purposes Lukumi does not. Lukumi tends to make African images to represent the Orisha and makes little or no use of Christian prayers. The Lukumi religion is a less diluted form of Orisha worship and was mostly concentrated in Cuba.

In Santeria, Yorubas then continue to worship and honor the Orishas and to practice their strong religious beliefs. The Yoruba rituals are modified and made similar to that of the Catholic religion. As aforementioned , when the Africans where brought to Cuba and the other New Lands they saw themselves forced to disguise theri ancestral religion and to embrace the church of theri captors. This created a complex religious mixture of beliefs. Because of its roots in Africa the worship of the saints has been a misunderstood religion, sometimes reffered to as unciviliazed and almost always viewed as a dark religion or a devil worshipping religion.

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