Reason No. 1 Why Collares Bought in a Botánica are no Good

Orisha necklaces, also called collares (Spanish) or elekes/ilekes (Yoruba/Lukumí) need to be tied shut by a Santera/o. The uninitiated can make necklaces, that is, the beads can be strung by anyone but for a necklace to be properly made, it must be knotted by an initiated Lukumí priest. The Santera/o will say a prayer while tying and imparts the necklace some of their ashé. The necklace(s) then need to be consecrated in the normal way. The vast majority of necklaces purchased in religious goods stores or botánicas have been made and tied by non-initiates and usually non-believers. Even some professional orisha bead workers are not initiated and thus should not be tying their own elekes, which could prove difficult. However, the tying of elekes by priests is but one of a thousand examples of small pieces of tradition that is getting lost, or conveniently forgotten in the name of commerce. We can not complain about the religion being streamlined and ritual knowledge lost if we don’t pay attention to these details.

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  1. Babacuba says:

    Aché!!! The issue of mass production of orisha elekes has been a problematic for several decades now. What may seem as a minor detail, the tying of a necklace is another symbol of the many liminal stages found in Afro-Cuban religious praxis.

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