Culture

Here Are Some Quick Facts You Should Know About Santeria

If you grew up listening to Sublime’s “Santería” at high school dances or hanging out at block parties, odds are the song’s opening lyrics of “I don’t practice Santería, I ain’t got no crystal ball” might have been the first time you heard of the mystical cult. Santería is a religion that came to the Caribbean islands by way of Africans brought to the islands in the slave trade against their will. They blended their native religion with Catholicism, practiced by the Spanish conquistadors and colonizers to practice their beliefs without persecution.

Santería is a religion with West African roots and influenced by Roman Catholicism.

The religion has been around for centuries, since the first existence of slaves on the  Caribbean islands. African slaves brought their spiritual practices of Voodoo with them to the New World. However, under Spanish rule at the time, the slaves were not allowed to practice their own religion so they had to integrate Catholic saints to mask their religion. While Santería is the most common name but it isn’t the only one. Santería is the name used to reference the African/Caribbean religion in pop culture and the media. Practitioners prefer the other terms for the practice often referring to it as Regla de Ocha, La Regla de Ifá, or Lucumí.

Another important distinction to note is that it is not equal to brujería.

Santeros are known as priests and conduct the ceremonies, which often include drumming and dancing. There are no official buildings or meeting places for Santería. The religion and traditions often take place in homes, outdoors or in places rented or secured for the specific ceremony that will be taking place.

To understand the history of the Regla de Ocho is to go back and understand how the Yoruba people in Cuba.

who were mistakenly referred to as the Lucumí people (which one site mentions is perhaps this tribe referred to each other as Oluku Mi, meaning “my friend”), practiced both their traditional religious customs in parallel unison with the new Roman Catholicism religion practiced by the Spaniards at the time. The main pillars of this religion includes the worship of one god in three beings: Oludumare, Olofi, and Olorun, as well as the worship of Orichas, or santos. This shows the similarity between the Catholic religion of God having three forms: God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ, as well as saints in Roman Catholicism. Some Catholic images, saints and practices are also mixed into the Regla de Ocho practices.

Santeros practiced in secret for hundreds of years to avoid religious persecution.

Santería has practitioners in the Carribean and across Latin America as followers brought these practices to other parts of the world, such as Brazil. However, the practices changed in variation from one country to the next. In recent years, it has been growing in U.S. cities with larger populations of African and Latin American immigrants. One such city is Miami, which has endured some odd cases of animal sacrifice in plain sight of its neighborhood residences.

The sacrifices are seen as offerings to the orichas and then eaten.

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The religion has been characterized by prejudice by people who see it as barbaric or voodoo (it is not voodoo, as the practices come from different tribes in Africa) and has also been at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court case. A santero and college professor goes deeper into the practices’ history in a PBS documentary titled, Santería. In 2014, after the Lucumí faith won its religious freedom in the Supreme Court case, two of its largest priest organizations joined together in Miami to form one hierarchy and establish more visibility and awareness of the religion among its followers and outsiders.

The recent court case wins and development shows it is a young religion that is continuing to evolve and grow among its followers.


READ: These Santería Stories From Miami Took Sad And Dark Turns For Everyone Involved

Did you learn something new about this religious practice? Let us know in the comments below.

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Meet ‘Padre Cheke,’ The Mexican Priest Combining Religion And Tech On TikTok

Culture

Meet ‘Padre Cheke,’ The Mexican Priest Combining Religion And Tech On TikTok

A Mexican priest has turned to social media to meet young people where they are – on TikTok. He’s using the popular social media app to help “bring young people closer to God” and him becoming an actual influencer in the process is just a coincidence. But a very successful one at that.

Known as Padre Cheke, the priest from Puebla already has nearly one million followers on TikTok and has gained millions of likes on his videos. So just what does a Catholic priest upload to TikTok?

Padre Cheke is a massive hit on TikTok for uploading religious content.

Ezequiel Padilla is “Padre Cheke,” a Catholic priest and rector of the Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and San Cayetano in Puebla. He is also a new star of TikTok. He currently has almost 700,000 followers and 3.2 million likes on his platform.

Padre Cheke has become famous for using TikTok trends and using them to give religious messages to his followers and anyone who comes across his videos.

With the onset of the pandemic and confinement, Father Cheke decided to implement new strategies to keep people from turning away from religion. After returning to Mexico following a formation meeting in Italy, the priest became interested in this platform.  “In those days was that I downloaded the application, because I saw some stories on social networks and from there I started to make TikToks. I did not know how but little by little I was learning,” said the TikToker.

At 48 years old, the priest pointed out that when he noticed that one of his videos went viral and went from 60 followers to 10,000 followers in a very short time, he understood the power of social media.

Ezequiel feels that religion is not at odds with daily life and he uses TikTok to share that message.

Father Cheke does it all for TikTok. He dances, sings and interprets his videos with a lot of ease. He also lip synchs to dubbed videos, follows trendy choreography and viral songs, sometimes alone and sometimes with members of his congregation.

I mean who wouldn’t love a padre doing TikTok?!

Due to the great impact of social media, he has become a viral character and even has his own hashtag,#ChekeTokers, which has already been and will probably continue to trend throughout Mexico and, if he has his way, around the world.

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In Cuba, Where Food Is Unreliable, Savvy Cooks Have Turned to Facebook to Share Recipes

Culture

In Cuba, Where Food Is Unreliable, Savvy Cooks Have Turned to Facebook to Share Recipes

Photo via Getty Images

COVID-19 hasn’t been easy for Cubans. Not only have Cubans been physically affected by the virus like the rest of the world, but the drop in the island’s gross domestic product has stymied local economic productivity. The island can no longer look to tourism to add to their GDP.

Because of this drop in GDP, food shortages on the island have become more severe than in recent memory. And Cuban cooks are feeling the effects.

Cubans must stand in line for hours at markets with no guarantees that the ingredients that they want will be available.

This way of living is especially hard for Cuban cooks, like 39-year-old Yuliet Colón. For Colón, cooking is both a creative expression and a stress reliever. “The kitchen is my happy place, where I am calmer and I feel better,” she recently revealed to the Associated Press.

Yuliet Colón is one of the creators of a Facebook page called Recetas del Corazón that has changed the cooking game for thousands of Cubans.

Now, thanks to Colón and other curious and generous Cuban cooks like her, Recipes from the Heart is now 12,000 members strong.

The goal of the page is to help struggling Cuban cooks cope with food shortages. Members of the page share creative recipes, tips, and food substitutions. Launched in June of 2020, the page was an instant success. Its success proves that Cubans have been desperate to find ways to adapt their cooking to the post-COVID-era.

To AP News, Yuliet Colón laments about the lack of rice, beans, cheese, fruit, and, most of all, eggs. “What I like the most is making desserts, but now it’s hard to get eggs, milk or flour,” she revealed.

The brightside is, however, that Cuban cooks are finally able to share food-related tips and tricks with each other on a much larger scale than they were before the internet became more widespread in the country.

Now that many Cubans have access to communication apps like Facebook and WhatsApp, they can now connect with one another and make the most of what they have–however little that may be.

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