Elekes, also known as Collares, are one of the first initiations experienced when entering into Regla de Ocha, or the Lucumí tradition. "Elekes" is the Yoruba word for beads and it's used to refer to 5 the beaded necklaces initiates wear to represent the 5 pillar Orisha in the Lucumí tradition (Eshu/Elegua, Obatala, Yemaya, Oshun, and Chango). These necklaces are the banners of the Orisha and serve to place the wearer under their protection.
To receive your Elekes in the Lucumí tradition is a beautiful ceremonial experience between you and your Padrino/Madrina.
The Elekes ceremony involves a Godparent consecrating the necklaces and giving them Ashé through a series of ritual songs, baths, and sacrifices (Ebo). An Eleke that has not been ritually washed and fed is nothing more than decorative beads. During the ceremony itself, the initiate will be washed and their head will be cleansed (Rogación). The Collares are then presented and the ceremony is over. At this point, the recipient is considered an Aborisha (Worshiper of the Orisha).
Elekes should be worn at all times except when sleeping, bathing, drinking alcohol, or having sex. If one of them breaks, it can be a sign that Orisha blocked something harmful from reaching you. You'll need to contact your godparent for a new Eleke and possibly a reading.
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