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Every time I go, a little more opens to me and a new secret is revealed. One of the people I’ve known there for several years introduced me to the caretaker of this very old temple for Santeria Ceremonies in Trinidad. It is in Spanish, but I will provide below a rough translation of her story for you.
This temple was founded in 1856, by some slaves from the Congo Region of Africa. They used to celebrate here, and the patron saint here is San Antonio. Before the start of the ritual, we do an initiation, from the slavery flag. (notice the cross on the altar: that is part of what she is calling the slavery flag)
After this, they play the drums, walking the flag from one end of the room towards the altar, playing this rhythm on the drums. (She plays and sings the opening song)
They sing this song as an invitation to the spirits, different songs for different orishas, then you invite the other orishas, Yemalla, Obatala, Chango…
San Antonio is the patron of this house. Before, we would take him to the church and leave him there til the next day to be blessed. The church stopped it for a few years and would not allow it, but now they are allowing it again.
We take him to the church, and baptize him, and then bring him back again and play drums again for him.
His birthday is on the 13th, and he goes to the street as a ceremony with the drummers and others. From the middle of the day, they play, and at midnite there is another ceremony.
The 21st is the closing time, every 9 days they played for him
Cheri Asks: “How long have you lived here?”
She Answers: “I was born here, it’s the home of my ancestors. I was married, left and I came back because my mother was ill. My uncle used to play the drums, but he died.”
The drums were made in 1856. They are still used today in ceremonies in this temple.
The photo: 40-50 years old a ceremonial photo.