Sunday, June 22, 2008
Changó, in Latin America and the Caribbean, is perhaps the most popular Orisha, a spirit which reflects one of the manifestations of Olodumare (God) in the Yoruba spiritual or religious system. He is a Sky Father, god of thunder and lightning.
The Yoruba are a large ethno-linguistic group or ethnic nation in Africa; the majority of them speak the Yoruba language and constitute approximately 21 percent of Nigeria's total population, and around 30 million individuals throughout the region of West Africa.
Changó was a royal ancestor of the Yoruba as he was the third king of the Oyo Kingdom. In the Lukumí religion of the Caribbean, Changó is considered the center point of the religion as he represents the Oyo people of West Africa. The Oyo Kingdom was sacked and pillaged as part of a jihad by the Islamic Fulani Empire. All the major initiation ceremonies (as performed in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela for the last few hundred years) are based on the traditional Changó ceremony of Ancient Oyo. This ceremony survived the Middle Passage and is considered to be the most complete to have arrived on Western shores. This variation of the Yoruba initiation ceremony became the basis of all Orisha initiations in the West.
The energy given from this Deity of Thunder is also a major symbol of African resistance against an enslaving European culture. He rules the color red and white; his sacred number is 6; his symbol is the oshe (double-headed axe), which represents swift and balanced justice, his symbolic animal is the ram. He is owner of the Bata (3 double-headed drums) and of music in general, as well as the Art of Dance and Entertainment.
In Cuba, in the Santeria religion, which combines Catholicism with Yoruba mythology, Changó is represented by or is the equivalent of St. Barbara in the Catholic religion. Cuban slaves used her statue to disguise or hide the fact that they worshiping Changó.