When bringing the Yoruba religion from Africa to America, our ancestors had to resort to the transculturation of many mystical-religious elements.
While they syncretized the Orishas with Catholic SaintsMany elements also suffered transformations such as fruits, animals, plants, in short, everything that came from Africa and that they used in religious rites and ceremonies and that did not exist in Cuba. And so they resorted to looking for similarities between these.
Among the ingredients that belong to the Osha (Santeria) that underwent modifications and that should not be missing in the houses of the religious due to their great power are:
- Awado (Agbado)
These ingredients are the "seasoning" that are used to offer to the Orishas and that are used in many ceremonies.
What is the religious significance of these ingredients in Santeria?
Eku, the rat in the Yoruba religion
Eku means rat in the Yoruba language, but there are many examples of them in Nigeria and they are all used for different ceremonies.
However, in Cuba it is usually called Ekú a la Jutía, although his name appears in other documents such as Okete.
In Nigeria, the okete is a large rat and the most widely used, which is called Cricetomys gambianus (giant African rat), and as this species does not exist in Cuba it is replaced by the Jutía (Capromys pilorides), an endemic animal of the island. which is big like the African rat.
The Jutía does not exist in Continental America and therefore this African rat is usually replaced by a very large rodent called Ñeque (Dasyprocta punctata).
- In Yoruba language Eku Euya Oma It means smoked hutía, and it is a fundamental element in the attention to Eleguá and Orishas.
Eyá or Ejá, fish as a religious element
Eyá means fish and like the rat, many copies of it are also used for different ceremonies.
Within them we find some such as:
- Hey Aro: It's the catfish
- Ejá prayed: Guabina fish (Hoplias malabaricus or Lebiasina bimaculata)
- Hey Gbo: Old fish, that is, a fish like the Snapper, which is large and already developed.
As we know, in various rituals and religious offerings fish is used as an ingredient in different ways, for example:
- Ejá or Eyá Yiyan (smoked fish): Name in Yoruba when we mean that the fish is smoked or roasted.
- Ejá or Eyá Tutu (fresh fish): Refers to fresh or unsmoked fish.
Unlike in America, fish in Nigeria is often roasted and sold smoked.
Agbadó, the sacred and ancestral corn
Agbadó means corn and in the Yoruba religion it is used for different religious and spiritual purposes, due to its great power it is fundamental in many of the offerings, ceremonies and rituals.
- In Cuba roasted corn is used as an offering to the Orishas, however, in Nigeria they use it in natural grains.
Now, when corn is browned or roasted, it should be said Agbado Yiyan.
It is interesting to know that not only the coins serve as a right to enter the mountain or the cemetery, but also the grains of corn are used as a right to enter these sacred sites where we usually leave offerings.
You may wonder why are these ingredients used specifically?
As these elements are sacred, and used since our ancestors in the worship of the orishas and African deities, some of the reasons for their importance are:
- The most prolific animals on earth are mice or rats.
- The animal that habita in the waters and are very fertile are the fish.
- One of the most widely used and widespread plants are those of the sacred corn.