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Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation - HISTORY

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Author Topic: Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation - HISTORY  (Read 3107 times)
Bianca
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« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2008, 09:46:27 am »

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« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2008, 09:48:39 am »

 


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« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2008, 09:52:13 am »

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« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2008, 10:03:48 am »

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« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2008, 10:11:30 am »

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« Reply #20 on: June 20, 2008, 10:28:50 am »



Vodou ceremony,

Jacmel, Haiti.
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« Reply #21 on: June 20, 2008, 10:33:39 am »










                                               H A I T I A N    V O D O U





This article is about the syncretistic Haitian religion.




For the West African religion, see West African Vodun.

For the related tradition in Louisiana, see Louisiana Voodoo.

For other uses, see Voodoo.
 



Vodou (Anglicized: Voodoo) is a name attributed to a New World syncretistic religion, or family of religions, based on the faiths of the Fon, Ewe, and related peoples of West Africa (see West African Vodun), of the Kongo people of Central Africa (see Lemba), and of Christianity.

It is found in areas of the African diaspora, especially Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Brazil.

This article is primarily concerned with the form of the religion as it is practiced in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

See Louisiana Voodoo for the Afro-creole tradition of New Orleans, Santería and Arará for the forms local to Cuba, and Candomblé and Umbanda for Brazil.

In Vodou [voo - doo], all Creation is divine and therefore contains divine power, which can be accessed by practitioners. The core functions of Vodou are to explain the forces of the universe,
to influence those forces, and to influence human behavior. Vodou oral traditions carry genealogy, history, and fables. Adherents honor deities and venerate ancestors, both ancient and recent.

When the word Vodou is capitalized, it denotes the religion. In lower case, it means the spirits of
the religion.
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« Reply #22 on: June 20, 2008, 10:36:37 am »



Vodou original area









African Origins
 


The word voodoo derives from vodũ, which in Fon, Ewe, and related language (distributed from contemporary Ghana to Benin) means spirit or divine creature (in the sense of divine creation).

The cultural area of the Fon, Ewe, and Yoruba peoples share common metaphysical conceptions around a dual cosmological divine principle Nana Buluku, the God-Creator, and the vodou(s) or God-Actor(s), daughters and sons of the Creator's twin children Mawu (goddess of the moon) and Lisa (god of the sun). The God-Creator is the cosmogonical principle and does not trifle with the mundane; the vodou(s) are the God-Actor(s) who actually govern earthly issues.

The pantheon of vodoun is quite large and complex. In one version, there are seven male and female twins of Mawu, interethnic and related to natural phenomena or historical or mythical individuals, and dozens of ethnic vodous, defenders of a certain clan or tribe.[citation needed]

West African Vodun has its primary emphasis on the ancestors, with each family of spirits having its own specialized priest- and priestesshood which are often hereditary. In many African clans, deities might include Mami Wata, who are gods and goddesses of the waters; Legba, who in some clans is virile and young in contrast to the old man form he takes in Haiti and in many parts of Togo; Gu (or Ogoun), ruling iron and smithcraft; Sakpata, who rules diseases; and many other spirits distinct in their own way to West Africa.

European colonialism, followed by totalitarian regimes in West Africa, suppressed Vodun as well as other forms of the religion. However, because the Vodou deities are born to each African clan-group, and its clergy is central to maintaining the moral, social, and political order and ancestral foundation of its villagers, it proved to be impossible to eradicate the religion. Though permitted by Haiti's 1987 constitution, which recognizes religious equality, many books and films have sensationalized voodoo as black magic based on animal and human sacrifices to summon zombies and evil spirits.

Today in West Africa, Vodun is estimated to be practised by over 30 million people. Vodoun became the official religion of Benin in 1996. Both American and Caribbean variations of the faith system center on ancestral spirits and two main pantheons of Lwas; tribal relationships are de-emphasized.
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« Reply #23 on: June 20, 2008, 10:41:31 am »



Vodou paraphernalia,

Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
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« Reply #24 on: June 20, 2008, 10:46:33 am »










Haitian Vodou


 
In Haitian Vodou or Sèvis Lwa or "Service to the Spirits" in Haitian Creole (kreyòl ayisyen), there are strong elements from the Bakongo of Central Africa and the Igbo and Yoruba of Nigeria, although many different people or nations of Africa have representation in the liturgy of the Sèvis Lwa.

Islam has also been noted in some services.

Among these other nations are the Taíno and Arawak Indians, venerated as the indigenous population (and hence, a form of ancestors) of the island now known as Hispaniola.

A large and significant portion of Haitian Vodou most often overlooked by scholars, especially English-speaking ones, until recently is the Kongo component. The entire Northern area of Haiti is especially influenced by Kongo practice. In the North, it is more often called Kongo Rite or Lemba, from the Lemba rites of the Loango area and Mayombe. In the south, Kongo influence is called Petwo (Petro). Many loas or lwas (also a Kikongo term) are of Kongo origin such as Basimbi, Lemba, etc.

Haitian creole forms of Vodou exist in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, parts of Cuba, the United States, and other places that Haitian immigrants dispersed to over the years.

However, it is important to note that the Vodoun religion existed in the United States, having been brought over by West Africans enslaved in America, specifically from the Ewe, Fon, Mina, Kabaye, and Nago groups. Some of its more enduring forms still exist in the Gullah Islands.

There is a re-emergence of these Vodoun traditions in America, which maintains the same linealritual and cosmological elements as is practiced in West Africa.

These and other African-diasporic religions such as Lukumi or Regla de Ocha (also known as Santería) in Cuba, Candomblé and Umbanda in Brazil, all religions that evolved among descendants of transplanted Africans in the Americas.
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« Reply #25 on: June 20, 2008, 10:54:34 am »









The majority of the Africans who were brought as slaves to Haiti were from Western and Central Africa. The Vodoun practitioners brought over and enslaved in the United States primarily descend from the Ewe, Anlo-Ewe, and other West African groups.

The survival of the belief systems in the New World is remarkable, although the traditions have changed with time and have even taken on some Catholic forms of worship. One of the largest differences, however, between African and Haitian Vodou is that the transplanted Africans of Haiti were obliged to disguise their loa (sometimes spelled lwa) or spirits as Roman Catholic saints, an element of a process called syncretism.

Roman Catholicism was mixed into the religion to hide their "pagan" religion from their masters, who had forbidden them to practice it. Any practitioners caught doing anything outside of the Catholic religion would be subject to execution.

To say that Haitian Vodou is simply a mix of West African religions with a veneer of Roman Catholicism would be correct. To this day, many uneducated Haitians practicing this religion will integrate Roman Catholic practices by including their prayers in the ceremony.

Throughout the history of the island from the day of independence of 1804 to the present, missionaries repeatedly came over to the island to convert the Haitians back to the Christian religion into which they were forced. This has set many Haitians to project vodou as an evil religion, from the influence of the missionaries to abusive practitioners who use vodou to persecute. Practitioners want to convince other religious groups in the Haitian Islands that their religion involves God as much as Christianity.
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« Reply #26 on: June 20, 2008, 10:56:45 am »










Vodou, as it is known in Haiti and the Haitian diaspora, is the result of the pressures of many different cultures and ethnicities of people being uprooted from Africa and imported to Hispaniola during the African slave trade. Under slavery, African culture and religion was suppressed, lineages were fragmented, and people pooled their religious knowledge and from this fragmentation became culturally unified.

In addition to combining the spirits of many different African and Indian nations, Vodou has incorporated pieces of Roman Catholic liturgy to replace lost prayers or elements. Images of Catholic saints are used to represent various spirits or "mistè" ("mysteries", actually the preferred term in Haiti), and many saints themselves are honored in Vodou in their own right. This syncretism allows Vodou to encompass the African, the Indian, and the European ancestors in a whole and complete way. It is truly a Kreyòl religion.

The most historically important Vodou ceremony in Haitian history was the Bwa Kayiman or Bois Caïman ceremony of August 1791 that began the Haitian Revolution, in which the spirit Ezili Dantor possessed a priestess and received a black pig as an offering, and all those present pledged themselves to the fight for freedom. This ceremony ultimately resulted in the liberation of the Haitian people from French colonial rule in 1804, and the establishment of the first black people's republic in the history of the world and the second independent nation in the Americas.

Haitian vodou crossed over in the United States as early as the 1800s, but surfaced mainly in New Orleans. One practitioner that popularized it in the area was the famed Vodou Queen Marie Laveau, but other forms of vodou existed in the United States dating before the 1776 revolution. Because of the system imposed to slaves in all of the British colonies in the western hemisphere, many masters were able to control their slaves to make absolutely no attempt to practice any religion of African origin. Drum beats heard by the master in the American territory would cause slaves to be subject to punishment.
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« Reply #27 on: June 20, 2008, 10:59:01 am »










Over the years Haitian Vodou had received a negative reputation by the ignorance of the Americans, Europeans and people throughout the world that were exposed to Haitians.

Missionaries had reported it, but it wasn't until the latter half of the 19th century that a book written in 1886 by Sir Spencer St. Johns, Hayti, or the Black Republic, accused Haitian Vodou practitioners of practicing cannibalism. Throughout the 20th century, Haitian Vodou was depicted by Hollywood as being an evil and menacing religion with spells by witch doctors and tales of zombies. However, by 1950, a film director named Maya Deren did a three-year research project from 1947 to 1950 in which she showed vodou as a religion of beauty and magnificence. She even wrote the book The Divine Horseman, which gives details about the religion.

Though Vodou had a bad reputation in the early half of the 20th century in America and Haiti, by the 1960s Haitians migrating to the United Stated began to grow in greater numbers. Though the practice was acceptable but did not constitute a religion, Haitians began to expose its practice in the larger Haitian communities in New York, Miami, Chicago, and Philadelphia and even in Montreal and Paris. Though Haitians practiced and showed their vodou pride throughout the country and even during Mardi Gras, Haiti did not recognize vodou as a religion until April 4, 2003.

Today Vodou is practiced not only by Haitians, but by Americans and people of many nationalities that are exposed to the Haitian culture. However, because of the demand some impose on vodou, high priests and priestesses began the abuse of exploiting their clients and asking high monetary funds for work that brings no result. It can be said that the culture of vodou is becoming a dying religion due to the greed of many who practice. It is known that the majority of Haitians involved in the practice have been initiated to become a Houngan or Mambo. In Haiti, a houngan or mambo is considered a person of possible high power and status who can make a significant amount of money. It's a growing occupation in Haiti that attracts many impoverished citizen to practice this field, not only to have power but to have money as well. Many vodou practitioners with a hunger to live a life of money and power go into this field to exploit foreigners and Haitians who are uneducated about vodou into their web of scams to collect many monetary funds with exchange of poor quality work.
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« Reply #28 on: June 20, 2008, 11:00:45 am »



The most common depiction of the loa Erzulie Dantor
is derived from this variant of the sacred icon of

Our Lady of Czestochowa.








Vodou and spiritualism
 


Vodou is a religion/practice that is greatly concerned with spirits. Practitioners that participate may be exposed
to the spirits carried by their ancestors that they once served. Those who don’t practice may be involved with great exposure to spiritual experiences.

One way that those who participate or practice can have the spiritual experience is when one is possessed by
the lwa. When the lwa comes on the practitioner, their body is being used by the spirit. At this point the spirit
will perform acts that it desires to do.

Some spirits can give prophecies of upcoming events or situation around the possessed one, also called "Chwal"
or the "Horse of the Spirit." When one is possessed, the possessed one has no conscious memory of what has occurred. There is no such thing as a partial possession but only full. Practitioners experience this as being a beautiful but very tiring experience.

Most people who are possessed by the spirit get a feeling of blackness or energy flowing through their body as
if they were being electrocuted. When this occurs, it is a sign that a possession is in the works. The practitioner has absolutely no recollection and in fact when the possessing spirit leaves the body, the possessed one is tired and wonders what has happened during the possession.

Practitioners with this gift do not like being overexposed because it drains immense energy from them. Not many can have or do have this gift. This gift cannot be purchased but only the spirit/lwa can choose who it wants to possess, for the spirit may have a mission that it can carry out spiritually. Also, those possessed by the lwa may be at a very high spiritual level that their soul is at a mature advanced status.
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« Reply #29 on: June 20, 2008, 11:08:44 am »









Practitioners who claim that they do not feel fatigue after every possession, or who are possessed by more than one spirit without feeling tired, are charlatans.

They pretend to be possessed and act like they have the spirit on them without having any spirit present.

Some of these false practices are done by people who want the attention or importance, because those who are possessed do carry a high importance in the ceremony as the enlightened.

These practitioners with fake possession practice this by drinking to the point where their drunk-
enness creates a new character that is not recognized by others. Sometimes they pretend to have
the possession but with a lwa that drinks and carry the act by drinking more.

Others who do not drink just carry on the act until they conduct a lwa-like task that a human can't perform and that's when jeopardy hits the fake possessed person.

Beware of these kinds of people. Vodou has some scam artists, just as many other religions have.
This is due to the ego of one who wants to be noticed, respected and popular.

The attention paid to the possessed one is great, but at the same time creates an individual thirst
for power with no spiritual gifts to act out the role of the lwa.
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