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The eleke/ileke ceremony

The eleke ceremony is one of the first major rituals that a novice will undergo as a devotee in the tradition. In most cases, a devotee is directed to receive their elekes through divination. The purpose of the ceremony is to put a devotee under the protection of the orisha and place them on a spiritual path. Being one of the major first steps for a novice in the tradition, the ceremony acts as a rite of passage sort to speak. At the ceremony's completion, it provides the devotee with inclusion into an ile orisha, whereby they will choose to become an orisha worshipper under the tutelage of a godparent (iyalorishá – mother of orisha or bablorishá – father of orisha) and of the orisha to whom this elder is ordained. The devotee will receive an ojigbona or ojugbona (the eyes the guide us down the road) to prepare the spiritual attributes for the devotee's rituals and ceremonies and they are charged with the responsibility of assisting the godparent in guiding the devotee throughout their spiritual journey for life. The elekes are single-stranded beads made in the colors of the primary orishas, including Obatala (deity of creation, peace and evolution), Shango (deity of masculinity, kingship, fire and thunder), Yemoja (deity of motherhood, austerity, and riches in the sea) and Oshun (deity of love, beauty, and femininity). The actual ceremony is a purification process that strips the devotee of their spiritual baggage and prepares them to receive the protection of the orishas in which they will receive elekes of, as well as the spiritual guidance of their godparent and ojugbona.

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