What Is the Santa Maria Religion?

Santeria is a religion with origins in southern Nigeria, Senegal and the Guinea coast that synthesises the religions of the Yoruba and Bantu peoples with that of Roman Catholicism. While occasionally misheard as Santa Maria, the proper name for this religion is Santeria.

ReligiousTolerance.org defines Santeria as the belief in one god known as Olorun, the owner of heaven. The Orisha, or head guardians, are the pantheon under Olorun that are worshipped and to whom prayers and requests for help or intervention are directed. The Orisha themselves are conflations of African deities with Roman Catholic saints that hold sway over similar aspects of life. For instance, Elegba became St. Anthony, and prayers are made to St. Anthony for concerns regarding roads, gates, travel and the like. Ritual sacrifice of animals, usually chickens, are a part of worship and prayer, and dance and rhythm are used to call down the spirits. Ideally, the various Olorun possess a willing participant, who then speaks and acts as the Olorun to the congregation.

Veneration of one's ancestors is also an important aspect of worship. They are known as the Ara Orun, or People of Heaven, and they are used as reference for moral guidance and examples.