Friday, 23 July 2010


24 June 2010

There are many reasons why a person would choose to become a ‘santo’, but a friend of mine has decided to follow this path purely for health reasons.

This is the week of his initiation, where he has to live in the house of ‘Ifa’, the head of the ‘santos’ and whom has the power to initiate you in becoming a ‘santo’. In preparation for this special week, he has had to buy white clothing and food to serve to the saints, snacks and dinner for visitors of the house during the week. He has also been given an African name, ‘Yabo’, which he has to adopt for 1 year, we can not call him by the name in which we have always known him as, not until the 1 year is over when he reverts back to his original name.

During the week he can only wear white clothing, his friends and family can visit him but can not touch him, he sleeps on the floor on a straw mat, he has to cover his head with a white towel when he leaves the room to use the bathroom and he wears five beaded necklaces, the longest is white and represents the saint dedicated to health, the others all with their specific colour are also dedicated to the saints in which he has chosen to follow.

Yesterday he was baptized completely naked in a river close by to Trinidad, just him and ‘Ifa’ were present. Today at the house of ‘Ifa’ there was a ‘toque’ ‘ceremony’; percussion instruments and singing for each African saint. He was dressed up like a prince in pure white satin clothing and a white crown with silver trimming. However, he is not allowed to look at himself in the mirror and I wasn’t allowed to take photos, so unfortunately he will never know how impressive he looked, ‘que lindo!’. In fact, he is not allowed to look at himself in the mirror for 3 months, so he has to turn his head away from any mirrors that he passes.

During the 1 year he has to continue wearing only white clothing, he has to sit on the floor whilst eating his meals and if he passes another ‘santo’ on the street or anywhere he must greet them by falling to the ground as if he is about to do a press up, the ‘santo’ will touch him on the shoulders, lift him back up to his feet, and with their hands crossed over their chest they make contact with their shoulders first left on left and then right on right. Must be a nightmare for washing those white clothes!

There are some advantages for the girlfriend, she can finally have control over the finances, as within the 1st 3 months, ‘Yabo’ can not handle money and during the 1st year he is not allowed to sleep in the same bed as her while she is menstruating, yep she has the chance to kick him to the floor, where he must sleep.

I also met Santiago at the ceremony he has now completed his 1st year of being a ‘santo’, he spends 2 days with ‘Yabo’ at the house of ‘Ifa’ and at the end he passes ‘el baton’ to ‘Yabo’ and he can progress to the next stage of ‘Santeria’. In order to progress to the next stage, there must be someone for you to pass ‘el baston’ to, if not you continue wearing the white clothes!!!!

In order to become a ‘santo’, it is not cheap, this surprised me I thought it would be free!!!! ‘Que loco!’, how crazy is that!!!!!!!! But hey, it’s a personal choice and maybe it’s an investment worth taking, if it’s for the good of your health.

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