Shango is the owner of fire, lightning, thunder, and war, but he is also the patron of music, drumming, and dancing. He represents male beauty and virility, passion, and power. His colors are red and white, and his eleke (sacred necklace) is made of alternating red and white beads. His number is 6, and his day of the week is Friday and the 4th day of every month. He's syncretized with Santa Barbara because she's portrayed in Catholic lore as a fiercely independent and brave young woman, dressed usually in a red and white costume, holding a sword and wearing a crown-like Shango. The feast day for Shango/ Santa Barbara is December 4, one of the most important festival days in Cuba. In a way, it's surprising that such a powerful masculine Orisha is syncretized with a female saint, but there are underlying similarities between their stories. For example, Santa Barbara's torturer was struck down by a lightning bolt, which is Shango's favorite weapon. And according to a patakÌ_ (sacred story) about Shango, one time he had to dress in women's clothes (lent to him by Oya) in order to escape undetected from his enemies. Santa Barbara's association with Shango shows that females and males alike can wield Shango's power. Both male and female initiates can be crowned with Shango, making him their father in the religion.
Shango likes bananas, okra, red palm oil, and amalÌ (cornmeal dumplings). He usually wears red satin pants and a red shirt with white trim; on his head, he wears a crown. He lives in a wooden batea (shallow bowl with lid), sometimes placed on a wooden pilÌ (pedestal). He protects against burns and death by fire. Shango's symbol is the double-headed ax, which represents swift justice.
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