miércoles, 3 de octubre de 2012

Prenda Judía. Prejudices in Cuban society reflected in religion, as the social construction it is.

An outside perspective can be based on completely "true" and established, but "unscientific" axioms, such as when in Cuba, far from direct religious contexts, widely says that Jews are good at doing business and therefore always has the Jews money or that the Jews are sly and therefore one should not rely on them.

Common prejudices, as in Cuban society, commonly have its origins in the formation of most nations’ identity, ideas that are often deliberately been placed where the foundations of a common identity will be added, these ideas been nailed or melted together with the rest of the symbols that make up a specific “culture” and passed on using the language of everyday. Common prejudices are resultant of the interaction between the forces of consensus and the forces in discensus, between the established and the non-established, between norm and resistance, between the official and the unofficial in a well delimited context.

"The reality of everyday life is ceilings for Granted as reality. It does not require additional verifications over and beyond its simple presence[1]

Cuba was colonized in 1492 by Spanish Christians, Catholics and Jesuits, who saw in Judaism their opponents, and therefore banned everything that which had to do with the Jews in the Christian colonies and Cuba wasn’t the exception. Christianity was the norm while all other means to worship the transcendent was false doctrine, heresy, sacrilege. Structure of Catholicism and African traditions, which were taken to Cuba, is the same: an almighty holiness, multiple subject saints, thereafter different kinds of angels, souls in different evolutionary levels, clergy, and at the bottom of the power pyramid, the congregants. This meant that over time these two religious traditions learned to live together and "borrow" from each other, and both became the Cuban “official” way to worship the transcendent, while Judaism remained the other, the different, the false doctrine.
Similar performances are compared to the Chinese, also an important part of the Cuban identity. But the Chinese account for the similar, yet different, i.e.  If it pops up a new variety banana in Cuba, as no one knows where it comes from, it is called immediately "Chinese banana". In religion says that it is profitable and relatively easy to "work" with Chinese souls because they easy obey orders, work hard, rigorous and requires little in return, because the Chinese, when they liv easy obey orders, work hard, rigorous and requires little in return. Another bias that probably stems from that the Chinese, who were taken to Cuba in mid 1860talet were free, but were so badly treated by the Spanish colonial power, so that generally they lived in slave-like conditions. The Chinese in Cuba shared both huts on the plantation and the slums of the cities with the Africans. 
In agreement with Durkheim, I think that religion is the society painted on the sky, so I speculate if this "civil truth" or "general consensus" in Cuba about “the Chinese” and especially about  “the Jews”, may actually have helped to create the concept "Prenda Judía" in the Cuban Ifa and Santeria. 

 "Prenda Judía" is a religious object, which can looks in many different ways, and that is generally used to achieve success in social life and wealth, through rituals whose moral and liturgical character are questioned, both from the Afro-Cuban religious tradition traditional side and from the fused Catholicism existent in the “Cuban spirit”.  A "good Christian" hasn’t a "Prenda Judía" at home or has to do with it, saying "Grandma". 

The "entity" is considered dangerous even for those interested in reaching its help, because the "Prenda Judía" is unreliable and can therefore turn to the interested / practitioner and set very difficult demands on him / her in return for the help, or cause him great loss[2]. A "Prenda Judía" not necessarily has to do with a Jew or Jewess, often has nothing to do with it, the thing is that the term “Judía” here mean not-baptized in the Christian faith, not blessed by the Christian holiness. It is important to declare that all initiation ritual in the Afro-Cuban religious tradition initiates with the baptism in "El Ile - Olofin", i.e.  the Christian church, the "house of God". Commonly in the Afro-Cuban religious traditions, the individuals are "baptized" at least twice, one for each religious tradition, the Christian and the African. I myself have been "baptized" three times: first in the Christian church, for the Christian heritage, then in Santeria or the cult to Afro-Cuban Saints/Orisha and a third time in the Ifá, when I became babalawo, higher priest in Ifá, the higher brotherhood of priests in Afro-Cuban religious tradition. 

by Julio César Soler Baró, @ElJull

Humanist. Degree of Bachelor of Arts with a major in Social Anthropology, Degree of Bachelor of Arts with a major in Religious Studies and Degree of Bachelor of Science with major in Global Studies/Africa Studies, Gothenburg University. Actor and Theater Director with Degree from the National Theater School in Havana, Cuba. Omo Oshún Olololdí, Awo Orúnmila, Oluwo Otura-Niko. Actually I'm writing two Masters Degrees, also at Gothenburg University. Actual presidente de la Organización Misceláneas de Cuba. Miembro de la Unión de Periodistas Suecos/Medlem i Svenska Journalistförbundet/Member of the Swedish Union of Journalists.

*Imágenes de la Parroquia de "Los  Quemados" esquina de 108 y 51 en el Reparto Buen Retiro, en Marianao, La Habana, Cuba. Todas las imágenes son propiedad del grupo Rpto Buen Retiro, en Facebook

[1] Peter L. Berger & T. Luckmann ”The social construction of reality” (Penguin Books 1991) s 37
[2] Ifá Korpus ”Ifá Odun Irosun-Fun, Iká Juani, Oyekun-Juani” etc.

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