Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Obba: African Orisha of Marriage & Domesticity

Obba is the legitimate wife of Chango in Cuba. She is considered the Orisha of the home and marriage. She represents the devoted wife who waits at home for her husband. We might add, that she is one of the few female Orishas that exhibits this behavior. Perhaps one of the reasons for this can be related to the fact that Obba lost her ear due to the trickery of Ochun. In Africa, Obba is considered like Ochun to be a goddess of the river. It is said that where the River Ochun meets the River Obba, the waters become very agitated and perhaps they are fighting over Chango. The reverence paid to Obba in Cuba is more pronounced than in Africa. Later on, we will recount the story of how Obba lost her ear and why Chango spent so much time with Ochun and Oya.

St. Catherine of Sienna is sometimes the Catholic Saint that represents Obba. The reason for this is not clear, but perhaps, as in the image above, it is due to the fact that head is clearly wrapped. This might relate to the fact that Obba had to wrap her head that fateful day when she cut off her ear to make a soup for Chango that she thought might please him. The story goes that Obba was very jealous of Ochun and her ability to attact Chango and so one day she asked Ochun what was her secret for so successfully attracting Chango. Ochun told her that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. When Ochun was telling this story to Obba, she had her head wrapped with cloth. Ochun told Obba that she had made a wonderful soup for Chango with her ear as the principal ingredient and that this soup had bewitched Chango so that he could think of no one else. Obba, being an African women knew that, of course, there were ways to enchant men using female body parts, but she had never heard of this one. Nevertheless, she decided to try this with Chango, the next time he was at home and dutifully cut off one of her ears to make the special soup for her. When Chango returned home from one of his wars, he asked Obba why she had her head covered and Obba made excuses. When Chango sat down to eat and saw the ear floating in his soup, he was horrified and ripped off Obba's head covering and saw what she had done. At this point Chango was even more furious and told Obba that he could never be with such a disfigured women and left. Obba went nuts and ran off into the woods screaming, outraged at the trickery of Ochun and ashamed and humiliated by her disfiguration. Apparently Obba was a very beautiful woman before removing her ear. Continue on to our other pages to learn more about Obba.

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