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Trinidad Orisha

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Title: Trinidad Orisha  
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Subject: Christianity and syncretic religions, Yoruba religion, Afro-American religion
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Trinidad Orisha

Trinidad Orisha, also known as Shango, is a syncretic religion of Caribbean origin, influenced by Roman Catholicism. Trinidad Orisha incorporates elements of Spiritual Baptism, and the closeness between Orisha and Spiritual Baptism has led to use of the term "Shango Baptist" to refer to members of either or both religions. Anthropologist James Houk described Trinidad Orisha as an "Afro-American religious complex",[1] incorporating elements of West African religion, Christianity (Catholicism and Protestantism), Hinduism, and Trinidad Kabbalah (an esoteric practice deriving from European mysticism).

Trinidad Orisha music

Trinidad Orisha practice involves call and response singing accompanied by a trio of drums. Orisha drums are double-headed bi-tensorial cylinders derived from Yoruba bembe drums (similar to the Cuban Iyesá drums). The drum that is lowest in pitch is called the bo or kongo. The lead drum is called "center drum," "big drum," or bembe. The smallest drum, highest in pitch, is called umele. The first two drums are played with a single stick plus hand combination, while the umele is played with a pair of sticks. All of the sticks are curved at the end, and resemble a shepherd's crook.[2] The language of the songs has been referred to as "Trinidad Yoruba"[3] and is derived from the Yoruba language.


  1. ^ Houk, James (1995). Spirits, Blood, and Drums: The Orisha Religion in Trinidad. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. 
  2. ^ Bazinet, Ryan (2012). "Shango Dances Across the Water: Music and the Re-Construction of Trinidadian Orisha in New York City". In Kamille Gentles-Peart and Maurice L. Hall. Re-Constructing Place and Space. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 
  3. ^ Warner-Lewis, Maureen (1996). Trinidad Yoruba: From Mother Tongue to Memory. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. 
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