Priests of the Afro-Cuban religion Santeria called on islanders Monday to be wary of diseases, broken agreements and corruption as they issued their much-anticipated predictions for the New Year.
Although the annual “Letter of the Year” is vague enough to be interpreted in a variety of ways, Cubans anxiously look forward it each January.
Several competing groups of Santeria priests, or babalaos, gather every New Year’s Eve for religious ceremonies that include chanting and animal sacrifices. Predictions are announced in the first days of the New Year.
Santeria is a mix of spiritual traditions carried here by African slaves and Roman Catholicism brought by Spaniards. The faith is practiced throughout Cuba; even many members of the Communist Party follow its rituals and look forward to the predictions each year.
The “10 de Octubre” group of nearly 900 priests, named for the Havana municipality where it is based, issued the warning about disease, ruptured accords and increased corruption. The group said that the Santeria orishas, or gods, ruling 2006 will be Obatala, god of wisdom and justice represented in the Roman Catholic faith as Our Lady of Mercy, and Ochun, the goddess of maternity and newborns, whose representation is Cuba’s patron saint, the Virgin of Charity.
The priests predicted that Cubans will need to watch out for cerebrovascular problems, stomach disorders, hormonal ailments and unknown diseases.
Society as a whole can expect an increase in crime, particularly corruption; broken agreements, including international accords, and a risk of drought and other natural disasters.
A different Santeria group, the Yoruba Association, which is more closely allied with Cuba’s communist government, had similar predictions with some variations and said that the orishas ruling 2006 would be Oggun, associated with St Peter in Roman Catholicism, and the Virgin of Charity.
The Yoruba group called for Cubans to pay attention to their health, especially cardiovascular ailments and mental problems. It warned against violence and alcohol and drug abuse, calling for the exercise of intelligence, humility and the guarding of secrets.
Like the larger “10 de Octubre” group, the Yoruba Association also called on Cubans not to underestimate the power of meteorological phenomenon.
The 2005 Letra del A�o can be read here.