Eleguá is orisha of the crossroads in parts of West Africa, Central Africa and the African diaspora in the Americas. In Yorubaland, he is called Èṣù-Ẹlẹ́gbára. In Brazil, he is Elegbara.
Èṣù-Ẹlẹ́gbára, Eleguá, Elegbara
The orisha of the crossroads opens and closes doors to the paths of life. He represents beginnings and endings so may appear to you as a child or an old man. He presents in nature as the stones in the road.
Like Hermés/Mercury (Greek/Latin), Eleguá is the messenger of the gods. Yoruba religious ceremonies always begin by asking Eleguá to open communication with God and his/her angels. Without Eleguá’s permission, nothing can happen.
Symbols of Eleguá are alternating red with black. Followers who are dancing for him wear red and black, often with a red handkerchief under a straw hat, and sometimes with old Spanish-style breech pants.
Specific drum patterns and dance movements are used to call the orishas. The same patterns and movements have been performed since the beginning of human time. There is a difference between the sacred and popular patterns, but similar rhythms and movements live on today in salsa and reggaeton dancing.
Eleguá’s number is 3 and multiples of 3. That might be why he is honored on Three Kings Day, January 6, the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of the new year.
The beginning of the week, Monday is Eleguá’s day. Followers often put a shrine to him behind the front door to protect the house.
Syncretized with Saint Anthony of Padua
He is also syncretized (blended) with Saint Anthony of Padua, the Portuguese saint on June 13, the Holy Child of Atocha, and Archangel Michael. We are not sure why Eleguá is syncretized with Saint Anthony. Perhaps it’s because Saint Anthony was
Eleguá is everywhere in the Caribbean. You just have to know how to read his signs. You can be looking right at him and not know what you are seeing.
Eleguá Guards the Door
Followers place small shrines to Elegúa behind the door to safeguard the house.