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Glossary of the most popular Yoruba words in Cuba

Glossary of Yoruba words in Cuba

Before selecting the Yoruba words that will make up this glossary, it is important to review a little the history of this beautiful religion in time.

The Lucumí Afro-Cuban Yoruba religion was born at the time when black slaves from Africa were transferred to Cuba to be enslaved. The same one that gained a lot of strength and grew from the mixture of the Catholicism of the conquerors and the beliefs of the slaves who arrived on the island.

Lucumí is a vocabulary of words and phrases that comes from the Yoruba religion. Spiritual language that currently predominates among the practitioners of Santeria in Cuba.  

The Lucumí language emerged from a process of slavery, where the exploited were forcibly westernized, generating a common language between Yoruba and Spanish, a simplified language, created and used to communicate between two totally different populations.

Lucumí comes from the Yoruba religion.

The American anthropologist William R. Bascom was the first to establish the relationship between the Lucumí language and Yoruba, initially it was believed that the definition came from the name of an ancient African kingdom called Ulkamy, but later the hypothesis was adopted that it comes from the Yoruba : (oloku mi, "my friend").

Many of these words we hear in the popular language close to Santeria, mainly referring to the names of Yoruba deities, holy songs, rituals and ceremonies, prayers, objects, phrases, a language that is transmitted from generation to generation and that survives through the centuries.

Lucumí vocabulary as an important source of information, transports us to relate and understand the anthropology, society, personality and situation in which the black slave lived in Cuba.

A sacred language that lasts over time.

Our interest through this Yoruba glossary is to strengthen the learning of the sacred language of the Orishas.

This selection that we have made corresponds to those most popular Yoruba words that have been preserved throughout history in Cuban culture. A religious vocabulary that extends throughout Cuba and that has been saved by faith, attachment to traditions and devotion to an ancestral culture.

What is true is that the Yoruba language is far from extinct, it remains more alive and stronger every day dominated by faith and love for a sacred culture that brings us closer to our Orishas. A language reserved for the Santera religion in Cuba, with a vocabulary that lasts to this day.

This Afro-Cuban language, which has developed over time, remains in the roots of every Cuban, and is much loved for its history, its mysteries, and its power to strengthen the health, spiritual growth, and well-being of its believers. .

Glossary of Yoruba words in Cuba:

Letter a:

bored: Hermano          

Aché or Ashé: It is blessing, grace, virtue, word, luck. It is said that he has Aché when someone does or says something and gets it right. Divine grace distributed to us by Oloddumare. 

Addimu: Simple offering of food or fruits to the Orisha.

agogo: Bell to greet Obbatalá and Oshún. 

Aleyus: Uninitiated believer in the Osha Rule.

Letter B:

Slime: Father (the Orishas are told)

Babalawo:  Priest of Ifá (Diviner) in charge of interpreting and deciphering this complex divinatory system.

Babalosha: (from babá, father, and osha) Father of saint, santero who has initiated others who are considered godchildren and goddaughters.

Letter C:

Osha's house: Temple house where there are people dedicated to the cult of Santeria, its practices and rites. Saint's house where new followers are started.

Letter D:

Say: oracle of the snails that is used by the santeros in the Rule of Osha. It consists of 16 snails, a santero can only decipher 12 odún, from thirteen onwards, the divination must be performed by a babalawo.

Letter E:

Ebbo: Santeria work. Ceremony that can be of offering, sacrifice or purification. They are more or less complicated, and are to refresh, compliment, or make the Orishas fall in love. They should be carried out after consulting one of the oracles. Through the ebbó, the Orishas release diseases, curses and various situations of daily life.

Efun: Cascarilla. Its preparation is based on ground eggshells (representing life) and blessed water. It is related to the Orisha Obatala, for its whiteness and purity. It is used at the beginning of the rituals to sign on the mat, together with earth from the tree of the saint who presides over the house.

Eggun: The spirits of the dead.

Ekuele: Ifá chain consisting of 8 pieces, used by the babalawo to interpret and decipher the divinatory system.

Epo: Corojo butter or palm oil that comes from the African palm and is used to feed, nourish and cleanse the saints.

Ewe: It is a prohibition (it can refer to certain habits that are prohibited to a person on the day of his itá). It is also used to refer to the plants, herbs and palos de monte that are used in Santeria ceremonies.

Hey baby: Smoked Fish (ingredient to perform ritual)

Eyele: Dove, dove.

Letter I:

Ibaé bayé tonu: Phrase that means: "may the dead rest in peace".

Iboru, Iboya, Ibocheche: greeting made to a babalawo in remembrance of three women who saved the life of Orula, the orisha of divination.

SDI: Consecrated handle, with the emblematic colors of the saint they represent.

Iku: Dead

Ile: House, land

I will go: Every one of the odduns of good luck. Hope, well, what is good, salvation, benefit, favor of the Orishas, ​​good path in divination.

Ita: Ceremony or meeting of Iyaloshas and Babaloshas that is celebrated 72 hours after becoming a saint to consult the Dilogún on the destiny (past, present and future) of the initiate in the Rule of Osha or Santeria.

iyalosha: (from iyá, mother, and osha) Mother of saint, santera who has godchildren and goddaughters of saint, members of her family of saint. Priestess of the Orishas.

Iyawo: name of the initiate in the Rule of Osha who becomes a saint. In Cuba it is translated as newborn in religion, while in Yoruba it is translated as wife of the Orisha.

Letter K:

killa: Three-pointed scarf used in ceremonies.

Letter M:

Maferefun: Thank you, blessed or praised. It is used to refer to and honor the Orishas.

Mariwo: Guano ornament, in fringes, obtained from the frayed palm stalk. It is used at the entrance to the saint's room, on the door frames or as an overskirt for the costume of some Orishas. 

Modupé: Thank you, I appreciate it.

Moforibale: Render honors, praise, homage. I'm from outside, and I greet and ask for a license (permission).

Moyuba: Speak with reverence, prayer, initiation, greeting, praise, petition. 

Letter O:

Obá or Obbá: Santero male who directs the ceremonies and is the highest authority of them.

Oby: In Nigeria it is the name of the Kolá nut; imported from Africa for the ceremony of the Seat or Initiation in Ocha. In Cuba, as this does not exist, it is replaced by dry coconut.

Oddun: Result of the consultation to the oracles. Letter of the divinatory systems of Ifá and dilogún that are determined according to the positions indicated by the divinatory instruments. Each letter (there are 16 main odún) has a specific name and is associated with a series of parables called patakis. These letters are interpreted as iré (good way) or osogbo (bad way).

Okan: Heart 

Lucumí ritual phrase:

Olorún oba tobi tobi. (God is the greatest of kings.)

Olúo or Olúwo: Babalawo of great prestige and experience in his profession. 

Omitted: Fresh water that is used to refresh the Orishas. 

omiero: Sacred sedative infusion prepared with various herbs and other ingredients (honey, cascarilla, tobacco, liquor, etc.) to drink it obañalaugh. With this omiero the stones, snails and tools of the Orishas are washed, it is also given to the initiate or Iyawó to drink during the seven days that he will remain under the throne after his consecration. 

Omo: Son

Oni: Son of Shango as father and Yemayá as mother.

Oni: Honey. Ritual ingredient used to sweeten, attract and appease.

Ori: the person's head. It represents the spirit that resides in the head of each person.

Oriate: The head of the mat. The baba who sits on the mat to perform the Dilogún and lead the prayers and songs in the osha ceremonies. He is the priest who must direct the "settlement" ceremony of the Orishas in the Rule of Osha and who interprets the message of the Itá snails.

OSHA: synonymous with orisha.

Ota: Piedrezuela that joins the snails with which the babalocha and the Iyalocha guesses. Foundation stone is an aniconic representation of the Orisha that is kept inside a container (tureen, pan or cauldron) and that directly receives the animal sacrifices that are made to these deities. 

Oti: Drink, brandy

Owo: Money.

Letter p:

Patakis: Stories, legends, stories, narrations, parables, from ancient times and from the Orishas, ​​used in the divinatory systems of Ifá and dilogún.

Letter R:

Osha or Santeria rule: Cuban religion with Yoruba background.

Letter Y:

Yalorde: In the Yoruba language it means queen, in this way the Orishas are invoked: Yemayá and Oshún.

If you are ready and have learned from the content of this post, we challenge you to do this Test of 10 very common Yoruba words in Cuba.

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