HAVANA TIMES – Matanzas is the most representative city of the religious African legacy in Cuba. The existence in this area of numerous and important temple houses strengthens the cultural heritage inherited from the colonial era in Cuba.
When the African councils were dissolved by the Spanish Government, after the abolition of slavery, in 1886, many of its members continued to meet in the houses of their “godmothers and godparents”, with the aim of continuing with ancestral ritual practices. They became house-temples of these religious expressions.
Reflected in the different religious groups that still exist, such as the Cabildo Arará Espiritu Santo, its leader, Oscar Rodríguez, asserts that the main function of this religious family is to maintain the Arara traditions from the former kingdom of Dahomey, currently the Republic of Benin.
They continue to honor their ancestors, transmitting their traditions from generation to generation through the worship of foldunes or Dahomeyan gods, and divination systems such as snails and their funeral rites.
Upon their arrival in Cuba the Araras were mainly in the provinces of Havana and Matanzas, where their transculturation received the name of Regla Arará.
The leader of the Cabildo Arará Espíritu Santo asserts that the founding date is the year 1862. He notes that among their teachings is to maintain religious unity, and that they are defenders of peace.
In religious syncretism, the patron saint of the Cabildo Aará Espiritu Santo is Saint Manuel, syncretized in the Catholic Church with God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Araras believe in the existence of a supreme being, creator of the Universe and the One God, whom they call Oloddûmare.