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Definition of Aguanile

Aguanile is a word that comes from the Yoruba language in Africa, which means “cleanse yourself with water”.

However, in the popular culture of Latin America and the Caribbean, especially in music and dance, the term is used to refer to a prayer or invocation used in Afro-Caribbean religion to ask for protection, purification, or luck.


  1. Purification
  2. Cleansing
  3. Protection
  4. Blessing
  5. Prayer

ORIGIN OF Aguanile

The use of aguanile in music and dance became popular in the 1970s thanks to the Puerto Rican singer and composer, Hector Lavoe, who recorded a song with this title. The song, written by the Panamanian composer Willie Colon, became a hit and gave rise to a new form of expression in Latin music known as salsa.

In Afro-Caribbean religion, aguanile is a prayer used in ceremonies and rituals to ask for protection and purification. This practice originated in Africa and was brought to America by African slaves during the colonial era.

Over time, Afro-Caribbean religion has mixed with elements of Hispanic and European culture, giving rise to a series of traditions and rituals practiced throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.


  • In Hector Lavoe’s song, “Aguanile”, the term is used to ask for protection and luck in life and in his music career. The lyrics say: “Aguanile, mai mai, aguanile, mai mai / So that there is no evil in my heart / Aguanile, mai mai, aguanile, mai mai / So that there is no evil in my profession”.
  • Aguanile is used in a series of rituals in Afro-Caribbean religion, including Santeria, Candomble, Voodoo, and Umbanda.
  • In some Latin American countries, such as Colombia and Venezuela, the term aguanile is also used as an expression of surprise or admiration.
  • Aguanile is a practice that has been criticized by some religious groups, who consider it a form of magic or witchcraft. However, for practitioners of Afro-Caribbean religion, aguanile is a way to connect with spirits and ancestors and a tool for improving life and health.
  • In the movie “El Cantante”, based on the life of Hector Lavoe, it shows how aguanile becomes an important part of the singer’s life and how it helps him overcome difficult moments.