Orisha Diety

Word of the Week: Orisha

  • Orisha (n): An African religion, mostly of Yoruba origin, known also as SHANGO, based on the worship of numerous ORISHA (deities), who also have Catholic counterparts. Worship includes spirit possession, drumming, dancing, chanting, and animal sacrifice. Severely represses at times during the past, it has survived, and is now more openly accepted (Yoruba orisha ‘diety’) = African work, Shango.
    • Devotees of the Orisha or the Rada faiths were often imprisoned and even flogged under an 1868 law –Convictions Ordinance 1868 – which made the practice of ‘Obeah’ a criminal offence. (Brereton 1993:50)
    • Steelbands as well was tamboo bamboo bands had a deep connection, in terms of musical influence with Orisha centres in East Dry River (Stuempfle 1995:39)

Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago there was a lot mystery surrounding the Orisha religions especially Shango “Spiritual” Baptist. You were always intrigued by the potential for animal sacrifice and what these adults were doing in the cloak of darkness.

Reaction against the syncretic tendencies of Spiritual Baptists led to their faith being banned by law in 1917. In Trinidad, March 30 is Spiritual Baptist Liberation day because it celebrates the repeal of the “Shouter Prohibition Ordinance”. The ban was repealed in 1951, and later, the repeal became occasion for a national holiday celebrating religious freedom.

Shouter Ordinance
First Page of Shouter Prohibition Ordinance

In 1980, Super Blue formerly known as Blue Boy won Road-March for his song “Soca-Baptist”. In my opinion once the religion hit the main stream it was more widely accepted by Trinbagonians.

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Source: Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad & Tobago by Lise Winer.

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