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Lukumí, Regla de Ocha or Afro-Cuba, most widely known as Santeria, (Santería in Spanish) is a set of related religious systems that superficially seem to fuse Catholic beliefs with traditional Yorùbá beliefs. It was historically practiced primarily by descendants of west African slaves in Cuba, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Panama, and in Hispanic population centers in the United States such as Florida, New York, and California, but its popularity is spreading to all corners of the globe, to all different kinds of people. It was originally referred to as Santería (literally, Way of the Saints), a derisive term applied by the Spanish to mock followers' seeming overdevotion to the saints and their perceived neglect of God. The slaves' Christian masters did not allow them to practice their various west African religions. The slaves found a way around this by masking the Orishas as Christian saints while maintaining their original identities. The masters thought their slaves had become good Christians and were praising the saints, when in actuality they were continuing their traditional practices. Santería is often thought by outsiders to be a polytheistic religion, but it is not. All true followers of Lukumí are monotheistic and the Orishas are expressions of the divine that people can comprehend.

Lukumí ritual is highly secretive and primarily transmitted orally. Known practices include animal offering, ecstatic dance, and sung invocations to the Orishas. Chickens are the most common form of sacrifice; their blood is offered to the Orisha. Drum music and dancing are used to induce a trance state in specific participants, who may become possessed by an Orisha who then speaks through them. One's ancestors, egun, are held in high esteem in Lukumí.

Many animal rights activists take issue with the Lukumí practice of animal sacrifice, claiming that it is cruel. Followers of Lukumí point out that the killings are conducted in the same manner as many food animals are slaughtered and are not needlessly sadistic and that the priests charged with doing the sacrifice are trained in humane ways to kill the animals. Additionally, the animal is cooked and eaten afterwards. (The similarities between Lukumí sacrifice and other forms of slaughter for food may be of little comfort to animal rights supporters or activists who are vegetarian.) In 1993, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah that animal cruelty laws targeted specifically at Lukumí were unconstitutional, and the practice has seen no significant legal challenges since then. The group is the frequent target of animal rights organizations such as PETA. The group does not advocate human sacrifice.

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Santeria is also the name of a reggae-ska fusion band from Munich, Germany.


Santeria is also the name of a song by the ska band Sublime.de:Santería es:Santería fr:Santeria it:Santeria

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