Pilgrimage to Souvenance

Pilgrimage to Souvenance

Early April
Every Easter for over 200 years, hundreds of devotees of voodoo journey to the Haitian village of Souvenance to visit a holy temple. The village, some 90 miles north of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, was founded by freed slaves from the West African country of Dahomey, now called Benin, and is considered to be a direct link to the ancients. The village temple is one of the most important sites of the voodoo religion.
During the five-day ceremony, devotees dress in white and wearing white scarves wrapped around their heads. The ceremony includes drumming, dancing, chanting, and sacrificing such animals as bulls, rams, and goats. The sacrificed animals, with slit throats, are passed among the believers so that the blood soaks the white garments they wear. Some believers hold the dead animals above themselves so that the blood drips down onto their heads. The sacrifices are devoted to the warrior god Ogoun. Worshippers dance throughout the night, imbibing rum and cane liquor and ingesting various herbs. The loas, or gods, are believed to take possession of some of the worshippers during the service. Voodoo is one of three state-recognized religions in Haiti, and some two thirds of the population is said to participate in its rites.
CONTACTS:
Embassy of the Republic of Haiti
2311 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-332-4090; fax: 202-745-7215
www.haiti.org