Excursions to Historical Churches
Religions in Cuba
Two of the main ethnic and cultural trunks
of the Cuban nationality are the Spanish and the African ones. Other cultures
also coincide in th econfluence
(the Caribbean, American, Chinese, and from other parts of Europe).
This complex process of cross over and mix have brought as consequence a sui
generis religious composition.
The Spanish colonizer imposed its culture,
language and religion: Catholicism, but the African slaves also contributed
to this process.
The original African religions modified in
the Cuban conditions, due to the fact that practitioners were uprooted from
their natural environments, and exposed to an ethnic interaction.
For instance, with the difficulties of
slavery the rituals concerning protection and fortune telling prevailed,
leaving behind others as those referring to fertility. In that way several
expressions of the Cuban religions of an African origin emerged.
From the Yoruba culture derived the so
called Regla de Ocha,
known as santeria. It has as cult a group of orishas (deities), with different myths and attributes.
The most important ones are: Olofin, Olorun and Oloddumare, the
In Cuba it is practiced the Regla Conga, Palo Monte or Palo Mayombe,
cults derived of some expressions of the peoples part of the kingdom of
Congo. These religious forms focus on the cult to the natural forces.
An important element in these creeds is the nganga (also known as pot). It is a pot where some
objects and organic and mineral substances are placed. They are considered as
the religions fundament, which is carefully watched by the leaders of the
cult. The highest hierarchy is the Tata Nganga.
Other forms of an African origin is the
secret male group abakuá, also known as ñañiguismo .
It was created at the beginning of the 19th century, with a similar structure
of the organizations in Calabar, Nigeria,
where the carabalies were originally from.
There are some other religious organizations of less
influence as the arará and iyesá.
The expressions of African origin are present in
representation systems, symbols, and rituals of a mythological content,
linked to nature, ancestors (spirits), and everyday life. They do not have
central regulating structures in their doctrine and liturgy, they instead
All these religious expressions, specially the santeria, are very extended in
the Cuban population, however, it is impossible to identify the number of
The Virgin Caridad del Cobre
The Virgin Caridad del Cobre
is also worshiped in Afro-Cuban syncretic cults as Ochún,
the goddess of love and money, the patroness of the fresh waters. Her feast
is on September 8th; even from the previous day offers of all kinds are made
The cult of Saint Lazarus is one of the most popular traditions in the Island. This worship emerged of the catholic and Yoruba
religions and it is related to a poor leprous man, a friend of Jesus, revived
in a biblical parable.
On December 17th many believers travel from every part of the
country to visit the Sanctuary of Saint Lazarus, in a place named El Rincón, 25 kilometres south
Havana. It is
a small catholic hermitage placed next to a hospital for persons suffering