Reglas De Congo is a religion widely known to have started in Cuba and also referred to as Palo.
Palo means ‘stick, pole or post’ in the Spanish language and the name were adopted because of the nature of its altars; usually made with sticks. Palo is known to have several branches, an example being Palo Mayombe.
Palo is said to have originated from the slaves brought to Cuba from Congo in Central Africa and is a mixture of different faiths from different African religions and gods. Its sacred language is hebla congo; a combination of the Spanish and Bantu languages.
Like most traditional religions, Palo is a henotheistic religion; focusing on the worship of one god but also acknowledging the existence and power of other gods; thereby the worship of many deities or gods. These gods are worshiped in exchange for protection, power, provision or other types of blessings or empowerment.
These gods include:
Nkunyu; This is known as the god of guidance and balance. He is in charge of all entries: roads and doors. He also rules over the wilderness and crossroads. He is highly referenced and often first acknowledged in every ritual or sacrifice. He is similar to Eshu deity in the Yoruba religion.
Kengue: This is known as the god of wisdom and peace. He is acknowledged as the Sky father and is also in charge of war, knowledge, and justice. He is similar to the Obatala deity worshiped in the Yoruba religion.
Zarabanda: This is known as the god of iron and conflict. He is known to be fierce and powerful and is similar to the Ogun deity in the Yoruba religion. He is usually connected to railroads and machete because they are made of iron.
Mode Of Worship:
The mode of worship of the Palo religion is concentrated on the altar or the shrine, called the nganga. These altars or shrines are dedicated to certain spirits called the mpungu. These spirits are believed to be very powerful and are connected to via natural objects such as sticks.
Contained in the nganga are different sacred and dedicated objects. It is also believed to be inhabited by the spirit of the dead that directs all activities involving the nganga. Other sacred objects used include horns, shells, mirrors, beads, etc.
Activities involve Palo music created by wooden and metallic instruments such as konga, cowbell, ngama , hoe, dancing, and chanting. There are also different rituals and sacrifices being performed to different Palo gods for several purposes; initiation, cleansing, protection, blessings, warfare, etc.
There is no known central authority in the hierarchy of Palo but the different branches are broken into temples that are headed and led by ordained priests/ priestesses.
Palo Mayombe is a branch of Palo. The other three (3)branches being Monte, Briyumba, and Kimbisa. These branches all have their peculiarities and certain differences in their mode of worship and belief systems. Palo Mayombe however, is widely known to be one of the most powerful branches of Palo.