Chanting Haitian voodoo celebrants honor quake dead

March 29, 2010
haiti refugees

Tents for earthquake survivors in the national stadium in Port-au-Prince March 21, 2010/Eduardo Munoz

Dressed in white, shaking decorated gourd rattles and singing praises to “Olorum Papa” (God the Father), several hundred practitioners of Haiti’s voodoo religion held a public ceremony on Sunday to honor those killed in the January 12 earthquake.

While several Christian ceremonies have been held to mourn the hundreds of thousands of quake dead, this was the first national commemoration by Haiti’s voodoo religion, which has had to defend itself against accusations by some Evangelical preachers that it somehow caused the deadly natural disaster.

More than half of Haiti’s nearly 10 million people are believed to practice voodoo, a religion brought from West Africa several centuries ago by slaves forced to work on the plantations of their white masters in what was then the rich French Caribbean colony of Saint Domingue. The religion is recognized by Haiti’s state and protected by the constitution.

To the sound of rattles and drums, the celebrants held a Booroum, a voodoo ritual which they believe sends the souls of the dead “under water” so they can be cleansed and return to life as better beings.  “Hounkou Bolokou Djavohoun Bohoun”, chorused the worshipers, repeating an ancient voodoo incantation intended to encourage the souls of the dead.

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I think if the Christians understood the truth in Vodou and not Hollywood’s image, they would make different choices.

I will explain a bit why the persecution is happening and briefly try to clear up some of the myths surrounding Vodou. Hollywood has promoted a faith that is so far form the real religion that the two are not at all similar. The Aid organizations are reacting to that image. The humfo or church group is the center of life and it operates also as a farm. On the farm, the people grow their own food and raise their own animals. When food supplies run low or at times when extra food is needed. Vodouins will hold a ceremony. It is like a Madri Gras as one noted author said on Sally Jessie Rapheal show some years ago. We give our animals a great meal, use perfumes on them and if they step forward use them in the ceremony.You see, we believe we are all leaves on the same tree as you take care of one leaf the whole tree does better. Animals as well as humans have a spirit and are a leaf .We give to that animal the choice, and if it chooses we kill them very quickly and humanely. We pray and give thanks to god for our blessings and to the animal for becoming our food. Christians have a similar practice. They raise their animals on a farm where they are often mistreated, kill them at times less than humanely and pick them up at a butcher. Christians often then pray over their meal as we do. In Haiti, they do not have grocery stores like we do in the west. The church farm is a natural evolution and it insures care and respect given to all.

We believe in one god.We believe in Jesus ,Mary and Joseph, the holy trinity and obviously what we call Good God. Vodouins hold that you must never hold a grudge nor should you act out of emotion. It is ok to feel it but not react out of it. That one can be hard especially when you get cut off in traffic or other silly things in our daily life. A priest must help all that come to him, no matter what. If one has no home or income ,the humfo becomes a source of hope and a new start. I read recently, one journalist say Vodou was actually more like Buddhism in the ways we strive to lead a moral life, to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and to develop wisdom and understanding.We strive for purity of heart and promote tolerance of all faiths. Only those that have achieved self mastery over their own faults as well as joy can hope to reach up and touch the hand of a saint or angel. If you are cruel, unjust or still confined by your own faults then the angels will not work through you. It is through this interaction that Hollywood has promoted the image of possession. In truth it is very hard to earn the time with these divine beings. You cannot be cruel, hurtful or selfish and expect any angel to go near you as they wont. It must be earned.

It is my hope they will all learn to work together for the betterment of all.

Posted by Evonne_Perfect | Report as abusive

I had been originally been looking for some thing I saw this morning on the computer about what I thought was Haiti and came along this little bit of information. Very interesting. It has been a year since the quake and I can’t imagine anybody anywhere holding in their emotions during the past year.Considering, but knowing voo-doo they probably did.I myself know no voo doo but I wear across around my neck and when I think about it, it moves. Anything is possible in these weird and unsure days here in America. I can only imagine what it is like in Haiti. I intend to find out by studying the peoples of Haiti one year later after the quake. Not study them so much,more like find out where they are and what they do everyday. Where ever they may be. I want to know what they need the most. Maybe…just maybe… I can help.

Posted by Suzie81 | Report as abusive