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Voodoo

Ezili Dantor in Haitian Voodoo

Ezili Dantor

The idea of a perfect mother is encapsulated in the essence of the Haitian Vodou Lwa, Ezili Dantor. Known affectionately as Mama Danto, the god is probably the country's most revered deity, as well as a model for the role of matriarch in the culture.

From the family Erzulie among the spirits (Lwa) of Haitian Vodou, Ezili Dantor is looked upon as the spirit of not just motherhood, but single motherhood as well. Seen in most representations as the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, an image believed to have been brought to the country in the early 1800's by the Polish soldiers who had come to fight for France in the revolutionary war, she is considered to be a fierce protector of children, and is the subject of many art forms including the visual, lyrical and musical.

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Simbi in Haitian Voodoo, Between the Living and the Dead

Simbi in Haitian Voodoo

Simbi, the Haitian Voodoo Snake God is a god for the modern world, shedding its skin from the past and unveiling a new and improved, digital persona that allows it to communicate through the Internet.

In earlier, less advanced iterations, the Voodoo Lwa, or god, was a sorcerer of great skill, giving service to the secret societies of Sanpwel. It has also been known in Voodoo as Mercury, the messenger of the sun, Legba. In its capacity as such, Simbi acts as the conduit for creativity and also the carrier of souls from place to place.

The Simbi is a serpent that traverses the land of the living as well as the dead. Its more terrestrial counterparts grace from the many and varied snake family of the Loa, found in the Kongo region of West Central Africa. Traditionally associated with water, shown in the names of two types of Loa, the Simbi Dlo or Simbi of the Water, and the Simbi Makaya or Simbi of two waters, the Voodoo culture has ascribed a variety of associations with the serpent, one, Simbi LaFlambeau, even being associated with fire.

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The Voodoo Religion and the Catholic influences

Vodoo and Christian Leaders hand in hand

The Voodoo religion is an amalgamated religion that is still widely practiced within Haiti and the Haitian Diaspora. It shares some similarities with Christianity, in that the followers believe in a creator god, Bondye, who is the originator of their lives, much as Christians believe in the almighty God. In this general aspect, Voodoo and Christianity look the same, but particulars can be drawn with the Catholic faith that can't be drawn through other Christian denominations.

Practitioners of Voodoo believe in steering their lives by managing personal bonds with Lwa via devotional objects and indulging in ceremonies of spiritual presentations. The fact that Voodoo finds its roots in Catholic Church has a chief role to play in this. They hold a belief that their God is in constant communication with the priests and not with the common person, much like the Catholic who use prayer beads and the Virgin Mary, among other things, in prayer.

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Voodooists' Confederation Ask for Social Inclusion

Michel Martelly in a Voodoo Ceremony

Since the legalization of Voodoo as an authentic faith in 2003, they have grown in political stature. Recently the National Confederation of Haitian Voodoo Practitioners (NCHVP) met with Prime Minister Lamothe to discuss inclusion in the social institutions of the country.

They argued against any policies proposed by conventional religious and women's groups keeping NCHVP from enjoying the rights of other civil society groups. Voodoo High Priestess, Envonie Auguste, stated Haiti's Founding Fathers' ideals included freedom and unity of Haitians, without prejudice of skin color differences, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. She invited the civil society sector to begin a dialogue to right the wrongs inflicted on Voodoo believers, so they may acquire social inclusion in civil institutions.

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Haitian Nurse suing hospital for teasing with Voodoo Doll

Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre on Long Island

We all probably experienced this one time or another; however one Haitian nurse working in Long Island hospital is doing something about it. Diana St. Gerard who is a light skin Haitian nurse has been discriminated by other staff members for her background. They assume that because she is Haitian, therefore, she must be practicing "Black magic" and Voodoo.

According to Diana St. Gerard, the white staff at Long Island hospital made her life a living hell there. During the nine years that she worked in the mental health unit she was faced with many incidents of discrimination. Nurses have told St. Gerard that she looked like a voodoo doll; another staff member actually brought a voodoo doll at the Hospital once.

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The History of Voodoo

Haitian Voodoo, Day Of The Dead

Voodoo is more correctly pronounced as "Voudon". It is an Afro-Caribbean religion originated in Haiti. Voodoo teaches belief in an unknown, uninvolved, supreme creator god called "Bondye" (good god). The believers of Voodoo worship many 'loa' or spirits. Each of these spirits or loa has own domain that represents specific parts of life. A farmer praises and offers to the spirit of agriculture; Erzulie Freda is the spirit of love. Loa are the intermediaries between humanity and Bondye-- the Creator who lives far from the world.

A Haitian professor, Leslie Desmangles who teaches at Hartford's Trinity College has written a book related to these practices named "The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal". He has said that "voudon" in Haiti refers to an assortment of many cultural elements that include folk medical practices, cult of ancestors, many traditional system of ethics, stories, songs, proverbs, folklores, personal beliefs and practices. It is more than a religion or belief; it is a way of life. The followers of this practice can be found in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, United States, Brazil and elsewhere.

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Christianity or Voodoo, which is more suitable for Haiti

Vodoo and Christian Leaders hand in hand

Before I start talking about this topic, I want to make it clear that I am not taking any side. So, please do not think that I deserve "Pe Lebrun" for this.

So what is the issue?

Recently I finid myself in the middle of an argument between two Haitians with different views about religion. You probably said that this is nothing new. Actually, this one was new to me because the argument was whether Voodoo or Christianity was better for Haiti.

Here is the argument I heard in support to Christianity:

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When Pope Francis said Christian Right Have Illness, Who comes to mind?

The New Pope - Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio

Can you think of anyone when Pope is calling right-wing, fundamentalist Christianity an "illness." Does the name "Pat" Robertson ring a bell?

If there is one thing that differentiate the new Pop from his predecessors is the way he preaches his message.His focus is fighting for economic equality. Pope Francis has shifted the focus of the Catholic Church to issues facing the poor and the sick, and away from anti-gay and anti-abortion that have dominated the Catholic religion

Like many other thing, Pope Francis does not seem to be impressed about Christian fundamentalism.

In a recent statement he actually called right-wing Christian fundamentalism a sickness. He further stated "Such ideological extremism is dangerous, not only to Christianity, but to the world"

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Bicha's Rum Bakara over Rhum Barbancourt Commercial Backlash

Daniel Fils-Aime As Tonton Bicha, A Success In Making His Character

A firestorm has erupted over a radio commercial comedian Tonton Bicha made for Rum Bakara, an import from the Dominican Republic (DR). The outrage focuses on two elements of the commercial, which tie into each other.

The advertising campaign promoting Rhum Bakara brands the product as "cultural rum". The connection made
by Tonton Bicha between the descriptor and its characterization is the trivialization of Voodoo, a Haitian religious belief that has only been legitimized by the government in the last ten years. The content of the commercial depicts a conversation between a houngan and voudouisant (positions held in Voodoo communities) that caricatures Haiti's Rhum Barbancourt, a venerable 150 year-old company that has passed down its legacy to four generations of rum makers.

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Ghede Celebration - Best Music Videos

Haiti Voodoo Baron Samedi Altar

November 2nd, is a special day in the Haitian culture. In Haiti as well as in the Diaspora, many Haitians use this time to celebrate Ghede with dances and Voodoo ceremonies.

In Voodoo mythology, Guédés represent the spirits of death and resurrection, symbolized by the Lwa "Baron". Whether you are celebrating Baron Samedi, Baron Cemetery or Baron Lacroix, I have selected the following videos for you to enjoy:

gede - Artist: Rara Fanm

PAPA GHEDE

Ghede Yanvalou

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