The Cult of Chango was established in Trinidad & Tobago by slaves hailing from former Yoruba populations and from other Caribbean islands who brought in these rites. The rituals went into full bloom all through the 19th century and it combined Catholic elements as the gospel was rammed by the colonizers. Chango is the generic moniker that names the cult of the Yoruba Orishas, seen with similar features in Grenada.
This cult also receives the influence of U.S. Protestant sects and some spiritual practices that have tangled up with the Yoruba theology. As a matter of fact, Chango priests are in the same breath preachers in Spiritual Baptist churches who sometimes organize parties to celebrate African deities.
Chango worshippers retire to the Mourning Grounds (isolation) whereby meditation and fasts they get in touch with supernatural forces dubbed powers in this neck of the woods.
Olorun is worshipped as God Almighty, but there's no cult just for Him. Practitioners are aware of his existence and his powerfulness over the other powers, that usually are named after the same Yoruba deities and gods practiced in African-America. There are some deities such as Mama Latay, highly venerated in this cult despite its not being part of the Yoruba shrine.
Each powers has its own stool, heap of soil, stones or emblems dwelt by the deity, that at the same time lives in the palais, the place where ritual objects are kept. The latter is next to the chapelle, a shrine for Chango worshippers.
As it was stated above, there are some practical differences between the way the cult is observed in Trinidad and Grenada. In Grenada, for instance, there are only stools and they are placed in the priestess's backyard, called the Queen of Chango and leader of all the initiated people.
Anointing a stool requires a set of very sophisticated rituals. The priest sacrifices a quadruped animal either a goat or a lamb- and then he buries part of the cadaver together with the deity's emblems and sacred rocks. He then sucks in some sips of rum and draws magic signs with chalk around a place in order to shoo away evil spirits.
In the Cult of Chango we find the same emblems, colorful rituals, invoking, drum beating, favorite food, magical herbs and animals to be sacrificed for a certain deity. Worshippers are aware of certain excerpts of the Yoruba mythology, yet unlike Cuba those traditions have never been put in black and white. One of its top powers are Chango, master of thunder and light. Chango is penciled in as a peaceful and charitable deity, the collective representation of the African ancestors. Emanya deity of the waters; Mama Latay, master of the earth; Ogun, master of iron; Osain, deity of the jungles; Oshun, deity of the oceans, and Oya, master of winds and rain.
As a general rule, a person who's been initiated to the cult of just one deity can only receive one deity. However, with the influence exerted by spiritualism and the Spiritual Baptists, some people receive lesser spirits other than his guardian power. In some special occasions, powers answer the questions asked by worshippers who come to the centers in search of solutions to their own problems. Exorcisms and magical healing are practiced. Practitioners receive amulets to find shelter from evildoing.
Initiation rituals Baptism of the Powers- are by and large a whole lot simpler than in Yoruba religions or the cults derived from them. They are usually based on meditation and the usage of herbs, oils and ribbons. The baptism is conducted exactly as in the case of Christianity. The initiated person is then required to remain in the shrine for quite some time to learn the secrets of his or her guardian deity. An interesting observation is that for the most part members of the Cult of Chango see themselves as good Catholics and, generally, they are all Sunday churchgoers.
Convergence of rituals of all cultural stripes is also commonplace in the Cult of Chango Protestant sects, spiritualism, Catholicism and Yoruba religion determine the diversity of its rituals and practices that today make up the religious mosaic of the Caribbean islands.