Photo Feature by Elio Delgado Valdés and Juan Suárez*
HAVANA TIMES – A journey towards the town of El Rincon, where the National Sanctuary of San Lazaro is located, is the goal of many Cubans every year, on December 17th, to keep promises or simply to venerate the saint popularly known as Babalu Ayé, in the Yoruba religion, or Coballende in the cult of Palo Monte.
Many Cubans adore their saints, transmuted into orishas; every holiday invoked to them moves crowds.
According to oral tradition, Lazarus was a rich and handsome man, but of loose behavior, so he became infected with all kinds of diseases.
The National Sanctuary of El Rincón is visited all year round, but on the eve of the celebration, the procession is giant. From early on, the coming and going of people creates a great mobility towards this distant place. Some return the following day; others spend the night in vigil. These Cubans hope to arrive before the image of the venerated saint, light a candle and put flowers … then ask for good health or cures for family members.
For the sake of visual anthropology, it is also an awaited day. Photographers and audiovisual creators meet to record what happens there through the image.
People make all types of promises that break with the imagination. It’s because for believers this saint is so miraculous that many come to him in search of improvements in health. For this, they make their promises and fulfill them no matter how hard. The Red Cross always has qualified personnel on hand to help those who are tired or pass out.
The date is close to the end of the year, so many prefer to go to the saint at this time, so next year is received with blessings and well-being for the family.
*These pictures were taken by Elio Delgado Valdes on December 16th and Juan Suarez on the 17th.
(Click on an image to display the gallery.)