Religiosity in Havana

Regina Cano

Havana daily life photo.

These days it’s common to hear people in Havana mention God.  They might say “Thank God” or “God bless you,” “May God reward you” or other references.

With these in mind, it’s painful to recall how many people were morally ostracized and massacred in Cuba’s not so distant past.  These were the penalties for beliefs in concepts within the Cuban imagery that simply served to provide relief in difficult times.

According to many religions, what you seek shall be found – all that is required is a guide.

Religious diversity has been increasing in Cuba. Likewise, the search for the truth or salvation has many denominations (Catholic, Pentecostal, Adventists and Baptist), and there are more practitioners of the Yoruba religion, Palo monte and Universal Energy (or Scientific Spiritualism), which is conducted like a religion.

Here, for many who are believers, God should also solve the big issues like world destruction (be it from for war, climatic events, or human pillaging) as well as perform the function of a lawyer, matchmaker, midwife, locksmith, or god of housing construction or rehabilitation.

Making pacts with their God is commonplace for people in any part of this world (e.g. “If my child survives I will reward you with my faith).

Hoping and begging for God’s blessing compels people to fast, participate in periods of moral cleansing, go on pilgrimages and to make sacrifices.

A clear example of this is the pilgrimage to San Lazaro every year in December, or the celebrations of the coming of the “Day of the Mercedes”(Obbatala)*, “Day of the Virgin de la Caridad” (Ochun)* or “Day of the Virgin de Regla” (Yemaya)*.

Embracing hope doesn’t make us better human beings when we turn our cheek and don’t work in the most immediate environment to make changes that are within our arm’s reach, with our own effort to slow daily destruction.

In Cuba, people don’t believe that things will change, but they do think that there will in fact always be a shortcut.

Some things indeed remain clear people!  This is the abandonment that is increasingly felt by Cubans, their search for hope and their yearnings (illusions) to face the events that will occur, as well as a little help so that the blows seem less overwhelming…“God willing.”

Note:  * Obbatala, Ochun and Yemaya are each gods of the Yoruba pantheon.

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Regina Cano

Regina Cano: I have lived my entire life in Havana, Cuba – the island from which I’ve still never left, and which I love. I was born on September 9, and my parents chose my name out of superstition, but my mother raised me outside the religion professed by her family. I studied accounting and finance at the University of Havana, a profession that I’m not engaged in for the time being, and that I substituted for doing crafts, some ceramics, and studying a little English and about painting. Ah! – concerning my picture: I identify with Rastafarian principles, but I am not one of them. I wear this cap from time to time, but I assure you I just didn't have a better picture.

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