Shango, the Yoruba orisha of thunder

Shango was the third king of the Oyo in Yorubaland who brought prosperity to the kingdom he inherited. Many stories have been told about him, and several myths surround him. He stands as the cornerstone of many Afro-Caribbean religions.[1]

In the Yoruba religion, Shango (Xangô or Changó in Latin America), is perhaps the most popular Orisha. He is the orisha of thunder and one of the principal ancestors of the Yoruba people. In the Santeria religion of the Caribbean, Shango is considered to be the focal point as he represents the Oyos of West Africa. The Oyo empire sold a lot of people to the Atlantic slave trade who then took them to the Caribbean and South America. It is primarily for this reason that every major Orisha initiation ceremony performed in the New World within the past few hundred years has been based on the traditional Shango ceremony of Ancient Oyo. Such ceremonies survived the Middle Passage and are considered to be the most complete traditional practices to have arrived on American shores.

Shango's sacred colors are 'red and white; his sacred number is 6; his symbol is the oshe, which represents swift and balanced justice. He is owner of the bata (3 double-headed drums) and of music in general, as well as the art of dance.[2]

Shango is venerated in Santería, Candomblé Ketu, Umbanda, and Vodou.[3]

In art, Shango is depicted with a double-axe on his three heads. He is associated with the holy animal, the ram.


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