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What flowers do we offer to the Orishas and Saints in Cuba?

Flowers for the saints

Flowers have always had an extremely spiritual meaning, always recognized for their symbolism and their load of emotions. With them we express love, pleasure, gratitude, purity and thousands of other feelings.

We give them to those who occupy a special place in our lives and with them we decorate the resting place of others who are much loved who have already left.

And the flowers also represent similarities with the qualities of the Orishas of the Yoruba religion. They have always been present in offerings and thanks for those deities that protect and guide us during our spiritual path.

With the process of syncretism and transculturation, many of the flowers that are given to the Orishas have been adapted to Cuban customs.

Next, we present the main flower with which each Orisha and most revered Saints in Cuba are honored:

1. Orisha: Obbatalá, father of all

White gladiolus for Obatalá
  • Saint: The Virgin of Las Mercedes
  • Flower: White Gladiolus

Obatala syncretized with the Virgen de las Mercedes, he is the father of all children on earth, he is the creator of human beings and everything that habita in the planet. He primarily rules the human head, thoughts, and life.

He is also the owner of whiteness, of everything pure in the universe. It is governed by the color white and white metals, especially silver. He likes everything clean, white and neat.

We give him the white Gladiolus that symbolizes strength of character, fidelity and honor, as well as the purity of the white color itself. The gladiolus flower also means, I remember.

2. Orisha: Babalú-Ayé, healer of diseases

Purple gladiolus for Saint Lazarus
  • Saint: Saint Lazarus
  • Flower: Purple Gladiolus

Babalu Aye Syncretized with San Lázaro, he is one of the most popular orishas in Cuba and highly respected in Santeria, as he is the father who heals and protects, in charge of healing all kinds of venereal and contagious diseases such as leprosy, smallpox and in general any type of pests.

We give him the Purple Gladiolus, a symbol of victory over illness, of honor and bravery. The flower indicates that everything comes to its time after having fought for it, so its dedication to the healing Orisha is very successful.

3. Eggun, spirits and ancestors

Marpacifico for Eggun
  • Flower: Marpacífico

The cult of Eggun In the Yoruba religion it is the veneration of spirits, the deceased and ancestors, it is of fundamental importance because as the religious system of Ifá says: "the dead gave birth to the saint."

The Eggun are the spirits of the ancestors or deceased ancestors, devotees or practitioners of the Yoruba religion. The cult of spirits and ancestors is also known by that word and attending them is one of the most important precepts of the Rule of Osha (Santeria). 

We give them marpacific flowers, commonly called China rose, cayenne, poppy, hibiscus, which is used to wash Eggun's instruments and is included within the herbs that are used for washing or waste.

The Pacific Ocean symbolizes eternal rest and the beauty of having led a pragmatic life.

4. Orisha: Shango, king of thunder

Black princes for Shango
  • Saint: Santa Barbara
  • Flower: Black Prince

Shango, god of fire, syncretized with Santa Barbara, represents passion, strength and impulsiveness.

He is the Orisha of justice, lightning, thunder and fire in the Yoruba pantheon. In the cult mixed with Santa Barbara, they are characterized as historical and divine. Shango is the owner of the drums, dance and music, described as a deity of explosive character and as a person with great physique, extremely strong and righteous.

Nothing better for these deities than the flower that symbolizes passion at its best. It is said that we cannot give a rose to just anyone, but only to those who have a special meaning in our lives.

A black prince is a rose that symbolizes love and respect and the purest passion, ideal for an offering for the Orisha and the Saint of thunder.

5. Orisha: Yemayá, goddess of the sea

White Roses for Yemayá
  • Saint: Virgin of Regla
  • Flower: Red and white roses

Yemaya She is a blue mother, a fish mother, a mother of all men. She is the Yoruba deity of the salty waters and the orisha of motherhood and is recognized as the queen of the sea and the crests of the waves that forcefully attack the coasts and rocks. Offerings and thanks should be directed towards these elements, towards their waters of life and love.  

She is the mother of all children on earth and represents the source of life, fertility and motherhood.

Syncretized in the Catholic religion with the Virgin of Regla, protector of the town of that name in Cuba and patron of the sea, protector of sailors, watchman of uneasy waters and caretaker of those who decide to cross oceans.

Offerings of white roses are addressed to her, a symbol of purity and innocence. They also demonstrate a pure, happy and lifelong love, which translates into devotion to the Virgin.

The white color in roses can also be used when a close person is sick. Therefore, to ask for health, his devotees carry a basket of white roses to the seashore and cry out for his help.

You can also give him red roses as a sign of love and respect.

6. Orisha: Oshún, owner of rivers

Sunflower for Oshún
  • Saint: Virgin of Charity of Copper
  • Flower: Sunflower

Oshun She is a head Osha and the Yoruba goddess of love, of the river and wealth, and represents the intensity of feelings and spirituality, human sensuality. She syncretizes with the most venerated of the deities in Cuba, the Virgin of Charity of Cobre or "Cachita", patron saint of Cubans, protector of this beautiful Island.  

The Cubans dedicate the sunflower to both, the flower that represents sunlight and symbolizes good luck, health and happiness.

The sunflower in the Regla de Ocha is one of the best offerings for the Orisha Oshún, whose color is yellow and the flower represents her. The sunflower is pure energy and is a weapon of feminine protection and represents fertility, passion and prosperity as the goddess herself.

To the Orishas and Saints we must always deliver flowers and offerings with great faith and devotion. It does not matter that the detail is small, the really important thing is that you give it from the heart.

Do you know of other flowers that are given to our deities? Let us know!

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