Saut-d'Eau Waterfall, Ville Bonheur

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.

At one point in Haiti's history, the practice of Voodoo was outlawed for more than a half century. It was perceived as superstitious, permitting animal sacrifice to appease its pantheon of gods. But recently, in 2003, Haiti recognized Voodoo as a legitimate faith.

During the Saut-d'Eau rituals, bathers imbibing in the waterfall's cleansing properties hope to achieve a state of ecstasy to allow possession by one of the Voodoo spirits. Some bathers perform the bathing ritual with medicinal herbs.

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Read more: Voodoo, Lwa, 1847, Saut-D'Eau, Waterfall, Virgin Mary, Voodoo spirit, City

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