In the objective to support the Haitian Voodoo, Haitian President Michel Martelly visited three "Lakous" in the Artibonite Department on january 13, 2013: Lakou Souvenance, Lakou Soukri Danach, Lakou Badjo.
Martelly conducted the visits with an initiative coming from Culture Minister, Mario Dupuy. He entered inside of the Peristile of Souvenance with a Candle and a cup filled with water and and proceed to do the ritual called "Jete Dlow". The Haitian President received the benediction of the Haitian Voodoo priests or as they are called Houngan.
What is Souvenance?
Souvenance is one of lakous in the Artibonite region that are known for keeping a specific African Voodoo traditions. Lakou Souvenance celebrates the lwas originated from Daome which is called Benin today. Lakou Soukri Danach is known for celebrating the African Kongo tradition. Lakou Badjo has kept the Nago tradition of Yoruba.
Annually, during the summer months of Haiti, Voodoo believers make the trek from all over the country to the Saut-d'Eau waterfall in Ville Bonheur. There they feast and dance in a primitive expression of ecstasy, preparing themselves for a kind of baptism under Sant d'Eau waterfall's gushing stream.
This perennial event began in 1847 when witnesses described an apparition of the Virgin Mary appearing on a palm tree. Since then other Voodoo spirits of Iwa (one of the chief gods of Voodoo) have also manifested at the Saut-d'Eau waterfall.
The Voodoo religion was brought to Haiti by Congolese slaves, becoming embedded in Haiti's culture, early in its history. But the primary religion of faith in Haiti has always been the Catholic Church. The Voodoo religion has managed to survive, in part, because of its openness to outside influences. For this reason, Catholicism has helped to shape its religious rites. And the baptism at the Saut-d'Eau waterfall is an example of this influence.
Haitians may not celebrate Halloween but they do have a holiday called Ghede. This is the day of the dead, when Haitians remember their deceased relatives and ancestors every November 2. Some Haitians describe Ghede as a New Year celebration for the dead because of the festivities and activities during the holiday.
Ghede is a huge part of the Vodun tradition, which calls for celebration and tribute to Ghede spirits. Baron Samedi is the God of Death and the leader of Ghede spirits, which are among the pantheon of Gods called as Loa. Haitians pay their respects to Baron Samedi, who they see as the wisest adviser, protector of children and the last hope of the sick.
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