Babalu Aye (ba-ba-loo-ah-yay) is the Orisha of sickness, especially associated with the disease smallpox, in the Youruba derived religions such as IFA, Santeria, Candomble and Umbanda, among others.
Babalu Aye, as a spirit of sickness, can heal by removing disease from inflicted individuals.
Sacred colors: Brown, black and purple
Sacred number: 17
Saint: St. Lazarus
Other Names: Omolu, Soponna, Shonponno, Obaluaye, Sakpata, Shakpana, etc.
For an image of Babalu Aye, click HERE.
Appearance: Babalu Aye appears as lame man, carrying a walking stick, and with his face disguised (His face is disfigured from boils and scars from smallpox). In this form, the plague god travels the earth, accompanied by dogs.
Lore: According to legend, the Orishas threw a party one day, during which Babalu Aye danced so strangely that he aroused the laughter of every Orisha in attendance. Filled with anger, Babalu Aye cursed his fellow Orisha with all manner of plagues and boils. In response, the Orisha tracked Babalu Aye down and beat him within an inch of his life, laming him. This is why Babalu Aye must walking with a stick or cane. Luckily, had the Orisha not have lamed Babalu Aye, then he might have well destroyed the entire human race.
Although originally the spirit of smallpox, Babalu Aye is now viewed as the spirit of all diseases and is especially associated with plagues, including the modern day plague of HIV/AIDS.
Trivia: St. Lazarus was equated with Babalu Aye due to the visual similarities in the above image, a purple-clothed, lame man with walking stick. In many places of the world, dogs are considered to be "unclean", and bearers of plague. Such animals are the perfect familiars of the god of illness.
Desi Arnaz: Playing the character Ricky Ricardo, Arnaz changes the name of the Tropicana club to Club Babalu. Later in the show, Arnaz sings the famous Babalu-Aye, a song dedicated to the god of illness. Unfortunately, Arnaz mistakes Babalu Aye for the Orisha Shango/Chango. Shango is the Orisha of thunder, fire, and is king of the other Orisha.