Saranbanda, Deity of Palo Mayombe; The Unconquerable Destroyer Of Evil

Palo Mayombe religion is henotheistic in nature. Paleros worship the Supreme Creator; Nzambi a Mpungu. However, they can only relate to him through other lesser deities called mpungu. One of such deities is Sarabanda. He is also called Rompe Monte in Spanish meaning ‘he who destroys the wilderness’ about the machete he uses to clear the jungle. Another variation of his name is Zarabanda.

Traits:

Zarabanda is known by the Paleros as a very temperamental, willful and fierce god. He is also said to be very protective and powerful. He is also seen as the epitome of determination, courage, ethics and pure masculinity.

Tasks/ Functions:

Sarabanda is known as the god of war, iron, and roads. He is highly dreaded and respected. He can be very violent when angered and is known for causing accidents and great calamities. He is associated with sorcery and is the most appropriate deity to call upon in the event of a conflict. He is also called upon for employment and protection. He is believed to be in charge of everything relating to knives and bloodshed; either to heal or to kill.

He is seen as an unconquerable warrior. He is also called the Destroyer of evil as he is trusted to be able to lift any curse or hex and to cast out bad spirits. He is referred to as the inspiration behind technology and innovation.

Sacrifices:

Sacrifices are usually offered to him at railroads. His association with railroads is because they are built with extensive use of iron. These sacrifices can be in the form of plantain, rum, cigar, peppered rum (chamba), cigars and machetes. Animal sacrifices are also offered to him in front of his shrine. Women on their periods are not expected to come anywhere close to his shrine. His colors are green, coral and black and his sacred number is 7.

Syncretism:

Due to several very similar traits, Saranbanda is often associated with the Orisha, Ogun in the Yoruba religion and the Roman Catholic Saint Peter.

Shrine:

Besides setting up an nganga, a Palero who aspires to become a Tata (male priest) must set up shrines/ altars for both Sarabanda and Lucero. These male priests are qualified to handle initiation rites. An nganga is built to be inhabited by the spirits of dead ancestors but this shrine is fully dedicated to an mpungu; a deity. It is the pathway that helps worshipers make a journey into another realm. Unlike an nganga, this shrine is made of an iron cauldron; a pot with three legs. This pot must be filled with items that make Sarabanda potent on the earth. Items such as horseshoe, machete. Often times a snake and even grenades. Oaths and initiations are carried out right in front of his shrine.

This cauldron is believed to be a bridge between the spirit world and the physical world as Sarabanda acts as a middle man between Nzambi, the Creator God and mankind. The cauldron is also a medium through which Sarabanda expresses his nature and then fully operates on the earth.