About the religions

Miami Herald/April 16, 2003
By David Ovalle

  • Santeria: Brought to the Caribbean by slaves, it is a mix of Christian and West African native faiths. A 1993 Supreme Court ruling protects animal sacrifice in the religion as long as the goats and chickens are cut in a precise part of the neck, similar to the way kosher meat is prepared.

  • Palo Mayombe: With origins in the Congo basin, it is considered darker than Santería because worshipers believe they are empowered by the remains of the dead. Those remains are kept in an urn called the Nganga. Remains often are brought into the United States illegally or stolen from graves.

  • Haitian Vodou: It is also considered more mysterious than Santería. Ceremonies often include machetes as props and magic powders. During the faith's day of the dead, worshipers often dress up as Baron Samedi, the deity of death.

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