Religion means something different for everyone. It not only gives us morals to live by, but it makes us view the world in a unique way. There are traditional religions like Catholic, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, etc, and not as traditional including Non-Denominational and in this case, Santa Muerte or Saint Death. While this is not your typical religion, it is a growing one in Queens, New York.
For many people, Santa Muerte is not very familiar and it may be difficult to understand why people would pray to the dead. Cities like Mexico and New Orleans along with New York are just a few that worship this saint.
The chapel “displays some 80 statues of various sizes of the “white child.” The largest one wears a crown and is dressed in a luxurious red gown.” When approaching the alter, people bring gifts in exchange for their petitions.
The gifts they would bring include tobacco, bread, fruits, tequila and jewelry. For a person’s petition there is a different “Santísima figure for each type of favor. The one dressed in dollar bills guarantees good earnings, the one in white grants healing, the green one offers harmony, and the red one, love. The black one is associated with outlaws and petitions for vengeance.”
The teaching behind Santa Muerte is to give something and then something will be given in return. This makes sense because ultimately in order to get anything, one has to ask first, from a religious point of view. Naturally, some prayers may longer to answer and others may not be answered at all.
Santa Muerte is celebrated in Mexico on August 15th while it is celebrated in New York on the 16th and interestingly, tattoo artists get many requests for an image of Santa Muerte.
Like any religion, it takes years of study and practice to become very devoted and understand the teaching behind it.