The necklaces in the Regla de Ocha

The necklaces in the Regla de Ocha

Heritage & Traditions


Since time immemorial and in the most diverse latitudes, humans have accompanied their clothing with various accessories, simply as ornaments or with personal meanings, as occurs with necklaces among the followers of Santeria or Regla de Ocha.

In Cuba, members of this belief system, originated from the Yoruba African culture wear necklaces, called ilekes, according to the orishas (deities) of whom they are devotees, and through them they establish links with the divinities and trust in their protection.

Each orisha is distinguished by a color, which is reflected in the necklaces, in whose preparation various elements must also be considered, including the distribution of the beads according to the sacred number that corresponds to each deity and its path, that is, the avatars. of its history.

For example, the ileke of Obatalá, to whom the birth of all the gods and the origin of what inhabits the Earth is attributed, is white, but in some paths of divinity (Obatalá Ayáguna, Ochagriñán, Ochanlá ...) among the White beads are inserted of other colors, such as red, purple, or coral, or snails.

That of Chango, god of lightning, thunder, fire and incarnation of virility, is generally made up of red and white beads in number four and four; and that of Elegguá, considered the beginning and end of all roads, exhibits black beads or a combination of these with other red ones, one at a time or three at a time.

Among the most popular orishas of the Yoruba pantheon are Yemayá, deity of the seas and motherhood, represented in ilekes of seven transparent and seven blue beads, and Ochún, queen of sweet waters, love and fertility, with beaded necklaces, mainly yellow or amber.

Believers wear these accessories in a single round, although in solemn ceremonies, such as initiation ceremonies, other more showy ones are used, with several rounds, an art inherited from the rich Yoruba culture.