Post By @CubanWindow

Original Text: Curiosities of Cuban tourism: Yemayá attracts travelers By Roberto F. Campos * Latin Press 

Recommend: Sites of Cuban Culture

Tourists from all over the world are impressed by religious dances of African origin that highlight Cuba’s colorful folklore, claiming details of island traditions.

With respect, travelers seek explanations among researchers and scholars, and try to understand the religiosity of Cubans and their nexus with popular culture. Hence there is an alliance between the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to develop presentations with traditional dances and songs.

These are manifestations that remind us of the gods that were once brought from far away, expressed in dance, above all through the recreation of the deities, as reflected by Cuban ethnologist, painter and writer Natalia Bolivar in her book Los Orishas en Cuba ( Havana, 1990).

The author is renowned for her in-depth studies on the subject, so many of the tourists who come to the island inquire about this volume which explains many of those questions, which we now refer to in relation to an important deity, Yemaya.

These searches have been more pronounced in the year that the archipelago closed with the attention to more than four million international travelers, many enrolled in stays of cultural interest.

Each step reflects a whole tradition and a history as it happens in the case of Yemaya, who reigns with the blue color and owns the sea, elements on which many foreigners investigate.

For Cuba to be surrounded by water, this figure attracts numerous people, especially European, shocked pleasantly with the rhythm and magic of the deity.

One Saturday afternoon, for example, a group of Germans saw a woman dancing in black leather, very black, very beautiful. It was a symbolic party in which the representative girl of Yemaya, goddess of the sea, but also mother of all orishas, had played the turn.

The dancer had wide hips and her skin gleamed over her very blue dressing gown, with white ribbons on the bottom of the pattern. The woman had a very sensual expression.

The tourists then understood that they had not witnessed anything different from what is customary among the “santeros” (followers of The Rule of Ocha) in their dances, because Yemaya should be like that, as goddess of the seas and mother of the orishas.

It has seven representations, although the original one is Olokún, compared to the deep-sea, with the deep blue and, therefore, it is not possible to settle it in the heads of the followers of this rule of African origin (also known like Santeria).

In each of her avatars she is maternal or angry, and her legends tell that Olofi, the great creator, gave her the sea because, when it arose, the land was only soil; Liquid was needed and maternal Yemaya would take care of everything.

The women who follow her in Santeria carry necklaces with two types of blues, one clear and one dark, as well as white. Such chromaticisms respond to the depths and the foam of the waves, refer the experts.

This owner of the blue dominates on Saturdays, therefore, being one of the days of rest, it vibrates in the memory of those who go out for a walk and is always present, because this is how they are respected, say these religious.

For Cubans it also has the particular meaning that they live on an island, and that the deity, in addition, is syncretized with the Virgin of Regla, the name of an overseas village in Havana.

In this place, on the other side of the bay, there is a hermitage with origin in the seventeenth century, a street named Santuario, with many worshipers, and a museum in which Africa is emphasized.

Tradition holds that Yemaya likes herbs like fresh lettuce, aloe vera, sargazo. Eat malanga, water-melon and cucumber; Is given coconut and has an interesting patakkí or legend in which Shango, another of the African gods, tried to love her.

This couple was then taken to the sea, where she stirred the waves and taught him to respect her, because he could not swim. Shango is the son of Yemaya, in another legend.

It is assured that the daughters of the goddess are willing and strong; Some maternal, and that others like to try their friends.

There are Yemayá Asesú, Yemayá Awoyó, Yemayá Mayaleo, among others. September 7 is the day that is venerated each year, and also on Saturdays and days 7, 14 and 27 of each month.

Its followers consider it a very strong presence that intervenes in the cures of the afflictions of the belly and in those related to the humidity or caused by the waters.

In the rituals of African origin in Cuba there are more than 32 deities, reflected by different authors, such as the researcher Natalia Bolivar. Each one has its own colors, paths, food and other attributes.

For their colorful and dances, tourists are attracted by a very interesting world, which leads them to participate in cultural festivals of great value, which they confess to remember many years later.

In particular, Yemaya greatly attracts visitors, as its legend shows the origins of the Africans brought as slaves and who defended their traditions in the midst of oppression, and kept them to this day.

Many Cuban nightclubs, both in the capital and in the interior of the country, show choreography that includes these deities, their values in the songs and their beauty in the dressing room.