Babalu Aye – The God Of Diseases

Extremely feared and well-respected, Babalú Aye is the Lord of many diseases. Babalú Aye is also known as Omulu, Azojano, San Lazaro and Shanpana. Often times, he is associated with the sun because the sun is a source of life in some places but also a source of death in some. He is also specifically known as the Lord of Smallpox. Medicines and vaccines have reduced the contraction of smallpox. However, Babalú Aye continues to struck people with diseases such as AIDS/HIV, tuberculosis, Ebola, etc.

Babalú Aye’s Attire

Babalú Aye is a muscular man who covers himself with straw and walks with the help of a staff. The straw he uses to cover himself up is to hide his smallpox. He can make any person sick as a punishment, which is why he is so feared. However, he can also help cure that person, which is why people respect him. No one in the African Diaspora wants to get on the bad side of Babalú Aye and be afflicted with life-threatening diseases.

Many stories and sources will make you perceive Babalú Aye as a feared Orisha. However, Babalú Aye is also a very merciful Orisha. He can cure you as quickly as he can make you contract a disease. Sometimes when people suffer from life-threatening diseases, they wish for death for peace. Babalú Aye helps grant them their wish and helps to guide those souls over to the other side. Babalú Aye is often found in hospitals, hospices, places where people are cured, gyms and the desert as well.

The Price He Paid

Some traditions tell that Babalú Aye contracted smallpox as a punishment from the God Olofi. He was punished for being disobedient and not having a nice character. He lost all his wealth and riches. His trials on this earth are a lesson of humility, perseverance, patience and good character. Babalú Aye is loving but extremely strict as well.

Babalú Aye is also the protector of all animals. Especially dogs. Apart from Elegua, who was his only companion while he suffered through his trials, dogs also accompanied him and provided companionship.

The Family Tree

Although his lineage is not exactly known, most people believe that he is the son of Yemaya, his relationship with Nana Buruku is where many people get confused. Some say that she is his wife and some say that she is his mother. A majority of people believe that Nana Buruku is Babalú Aye’s mother. Babalú Aye is very commonly associated with Osain who is the herb Orisha. This is because of Babalú Aye’s knowledge of how plants can heal people.

The ceremony for worshipping Babalú Aye is known as the Awan in the Santeria tradition. Burlap is sacred to this Orisha and is often offered as a sacrifice to him. Babalú Aye’s sacred number is 17 and his sacred colors are purple, brown and yellow. December 17th is Babalú Aye’s day. His favorite food offerings are a roasted ear of corn, popcorn, black-eyed peas, rum, tobacco, and beans.

Learn more about Santeria and the Orishas with Lucumi: The Ways of Santeria


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