Sunday July 22, 2018

Priests from Cuba’s Afro-Cuban religion forecast a prosperous 2017 in their New Year’s Prophecy

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Santeria followers reach out for copies of the annual Letter of the Year, written by Afro-Cuban Santeria priests outlining predictions for the new year in Havana, Cuba, Jan. 3, 2017. VOA
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Priests from Cuba’s Afro-Cuban religion forecast a prosperous 2017 in their New Year’s prophecy and told Cubans to be hopeful despite the economic and diplomatic headwinds the Caribbean island-nation faces.

The ritual-filled Santeria religion, which fuses ancient African beliefs brought to Cuba by slaves with Catholicism, is practiced by millions of Cubans, many of whom eagerly await guidance from its annual forecast.

“This [reading] forecasts a favorable development from the point of view of economic management,” priest Lazaro Cuesta, clad in white as a symbol of purity, told a news conference Tuesday in Havana.

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That forecast contrasted with President Raul Castro’s gloomy depiction of the economy last week. He told the National Assembly that Cuba entered a recession last year in tandem with the crisis in Venezuela, a key ally, although the economy might eke out growth in 2017.

It also flew in the face of darker prophecies in recent years. The Santeria priests, known as babalawos, had predicted an explosion in migration and social unrest in 2015 and 2016.

Santeria priests attend the reading of the annual Letter of the Year, written by Afro-Cuban Santeria priests, listing predictions for the new year in Havana, Cuba, Jan. 3, 2017.
Santeria priests attend the reading of the annual Letter of the Year, written by Afro-Cuban Santeria priests, listing predictions for the new year in Havana, Cuba, Jan. 3, 2017. VOA

Santeria priests attend the reading of the annual Letter of the Year, written by Afro-Cuban Santeria priests, listing predictions for the new year in Havana, Cuba, Jan. 3, 2017.

Asked about the future of U.S.-Cuban relations given U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s threat to end the fledgling detente, Cuesta used an image to suggest both sides would continue to negotiate.

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Cuesta said the reigning Yoruba deity Oggun, god of iron, tools and weapons, would use his machetes to cut down the plants preventing communication.

“Independently of the instability anyone might feel, of the political happenings in the world, the letter of the year gives the Cuban people, and the world, hope,” he said. “If we are capable of hearing, expressing, understanding, contributing, the results without doubt will arrive.”

The babalawos recommended Santeria devotees wear white, avoid the excessive consumption of alcohol, and pay attention to possible acts of corruption.

They advised followers to protect coastal areas from waste and to encourage economic and sociocultural exchanges between countries.

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Senior babalawo Bebo Padron said this year’s prophecy called for Cubans to unite, possibly a reference to opposition to the country’s government and those who have emigrated.

Two of the six slogans for 2017 chosen by the faith were “Only one king governs a people” and “no hat can be more famous than a crown.”

Santeria followers have believed their gods were on the side of the Cuban revolution ever since a white dove landed on the shoulder of late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro during a victory speech in Havana. (VOA)

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)