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VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JSXM 
July 05, 2016 
One long night every year in a mountainous rainforest in Venezuela, hundreds gather to dance on red-hot... 
CHIVACOA, Venezuela 
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions 
One long night every year in a mountainous rainforest in Venezuela, hundreds gather to dance on red-hot embers, enter trance-like states, and worship an ancient goddess known as Maria Lionza. Those who travel to the mountain known as Sorte in central Venezuela are practitioners of a cult that is built on local indigenous traditions. Followers say its rituals heal pain and can even cure disease. Legend holds that Maria Lionza, the daughter of an indigenous chief and a European colonizer, battled a massive anaconda until the serpent exploded - causing torrential rains that are typical of the jungle surrounding the Sorte mountain. Spiritual rituals that combine Roman Catholic teachings with African and indigenous legends are routinely practiced side-by-side with Christianity, primarily by Venezuela's working class. Santeria, a religion native to the Caribbean that combines the Yoruba traditions of West African slaves with Catholic teachings of Spanish colonizers, is also popular among those seeking spiritual guidance outside the Catholic church. REUTERS/Marco Bello SEARCH "SANTERIA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY 
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