Preparing for the Feast of Babalú-Ayé

Last year I focused on the more public aspects of Cuban veneration for Babalú-Ayé at this time of year, writing about the spectacular festival celebrated at Rincón, but this year I want to draw attention to the more localized, more particular manifestations of that devotion.

At the house of Armando Zulueta--Omí Toké, they are already preparing. They are planning a trip to the cemetery to cool the graves of Armando and his godmother Octavia--Jundesi. They are organzing the Lucumí and Arará drummers they need to play at the house. They are certainly worrying about how they will feed the hundred or more people who will enter the house. They are looking for an old goat to give to the Old Man and they are looking for a large pig to give to Nanú. They are buying dry white wine and rum, and they are toasting dried corn.

The money they have in hand determines much of what is possible, but they do continue honor Babalú-Ayé with an elaborate set of ceremonies.

Later this week, I will describe these ceremonies in detail.