Haitian Vodou Perspectives on Death and Dying

decided to explore the culture of Haitians who practice Vodou, also known as Voodoo religion, vodu, Vodou, and Voudun Yoruba Orisha. He has just returned from a vacation in the Caribbean (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic), which shares an island of Haiti. While there, I met a man from Haiti and was reminded of the strange experience in 1998 when I was riding in an Orisha (Loa), an inner-city Christian worship. So I thought this would be an interesting topic for the task. To make things easier in this study, I am referring to the group or Vodou Vodou is simply this.

Introducing Vodou and Haitian culture

Vodou is a religion blended African Caribbean religions and Catholic Christianity. Long stereotype of the outside world as "black magic" Vodou priests and priestesses also diviners, healers and religious leaders, who derive most of their income from instead of healing the attacker targeted victim.

Vodou comes from an African word "spirit" and is directly traced to the West African Yoruba people who lived in the 18th and 19th century Dahomey. However, the African roots date back 6,000 years. Today, the most commonly practiced Vodou in the country of Haiti and the United States around New Orleans, New York and Florida. Today, more than 60 million people practice Vodou in the Caribbean Islands and West Indies, and North and South America, Africa and Great Britain. During

days of the slave trade, this religion is fused with Catholic Christianity. Therefore, children born in this current century rural Haitian families are usually baptized the Vodou religion, and the Catholic Church.

Those who practice Vodou believe in a pantheon of gods who control and represents the laws and forces of the universe. In this pantheon, there is a deity and Loa, a large group of minor deities equivalent to the saints of the Catholic Church. These are the gods to protect people, and special discounts through their representatives on the ground that the hougans (priests) and mambos (priestesses).

The Loa (also Lwa or L & # 39; wha) spirits like little angels or saints of Christianity. These intermediaries between the Creator and humanity. Unlike saints or angels, they are not simply praying; They are served. They are all separate beings in their own personal likes and dislikes and various sacred rhythms, songs, dances, ritual symbols and special service mode.

rituals, behaviors and practices related to Death and Dying

Haitians who keep Vodou death is not seen as the end of life. They believe in the afterlife. Followers of Vodou believe that each person has a spirit that both the gros bon ange (great soul or universal life force), and your bon ange (little soul, or the individual soul, or essence).

when a person dies, the soul is hovering near the body, seven to nine days. During this period, the ti bon ange vulnerable and can be captured and made a "spiritual zombie" in the wizard. Assuming that the soul is not made, the priest or priestess performs a ritual called Nine Nights separate the soul from the body, so the soul in the dark waters for a year and a day. If this is not done, your bon ange move through the land, and to the misfortune of others.

After a year and a day, relatives of the deceased perform the Rite of Reclamation to raise the deceased's soul essence and put it in a clay jar Govi ​​known. The belief that each person's life experience can be passed on to the family or community, forcing Haitians plead with the spirit of death temporarily with a family member, a priest (Houng) or priestess (mambo) gives the final words of wisdom.

clay jar or can be placed in the temple of mambo Houng, where the family can come to feed the mind and treat it as a divine being. At other times, the Houng burn the jar in a ritual known as boule zen. This frees the spirit of the dead land, if it is properly reside. Another way to raise the ti-bon-Ange to break the jar and drop the pieces arrived.

The ultimate goal of Vodou culture of death rituals to send the Gros-bon-ange Gine to the ancient spirits of cosmic community, where it will be worshiped by family members as a loa itself. After the last ritual is done, the soul free to keep yourself between rocks and trees until rebirth. Sixteen incarnations later, the spirit fade into the cosmic energy.

Here are some other typical behaviors of the death of the Haitian culture:

· When death threatens the whole family will gather, pray, cry and use of religious coins or other spiritual artifacts. Relatives and friends expend considerable effort to be present when death is near.

· Haitian prefer to die at home, but the hospital is an acceptable choice.

· The moment of death is selected in ritual wailing family members, friends, and neighbors.

· If a person dies, the eldest member of the family makes all necessary measures and notify the family. The body is retained as long as the entire family can gather.

· The last bath is usually given by a family member.

· Funeral important social events and involve several days of social interaction, including banquet and consumption of rum.

· family members from far away to sleep in the house, and friends and neighbors gathered in the courtyard.

· tombstones and other burial rites often expensive and complicated. People are increasingly reluctant to underground. They prefer to be buried above ground in a complex, multi-chambered tomb that cost more than the house in which the individual lives while living.

· Since the body is considered necessary, the resurrection of the donation and cremation is not allowed. An autopsy is permitted only if the death occurred as a result of doing wrong, or to confirm that the body is actually dead and not a zombie.

figurative use

Like many Western Christian religions sacrifice symbolizes the consumption of flesh and blood, a Vodou ceremonies include the word sacrifice, in which the chickens, goats, doves, pigeons, and turtles are sacrificed to celebrate births, marriages and deaths.

Vodou beliefs Afterlife

Vodou practitioners believed that the souls of all the deceased go to a shelter under the water. Concepts of reward and punishment in the afterlife strangers Vodou.

The Vodou, the soul lives on the ground, and can be used or be a member of the magic of reincarnation of the dead man's family.

community is a god or goddess occurs in the context of possession. The gods sometimes work through Govi, and sometimes it takes a live person. This activity is called "mounting a horse," by which a person loses consciousness and organization of the temporarily occupied a Loa. A special priest (Houng) or priestess (mambo) provides assistance and summoning the gods and helping them to evacuate the termination of possession.

The Gros-bon-ange returns based on high solar regions of cosmic energy called up for the first time; From there, it joins the other loa and becomes a loa well.


Each group of faithful independent and there is no central organization, religious leader or set of dogmatic beliefs. Rituals and ceremonies vary depending on family traditions, regional differences, exercise and exposure to other cultures, such as Catholicism, the official religion of Haiti that.

Some Haitians believe that the dead live near the loa, in a place called "underwater." Others think that there is no specific place of the dead after death.

changes the position of the local traditions and burial, according to a person. Some families can not express my grief out loud while most of the deceased's assets have been removed from the home. Persons who are familiar with funeral customs wash, dress, and placed the body in a coffin. The mourners wear white clothing that is death. A priest may be invited to conduct the funeral service. The funeral usually within 24 hours.


Westerners, or so-called logical people might find strange and exotic blend of Vodou spells, property and rituals. Like any other religion, it is intended to reassure people by providing a common bond. Vodou fits surprisingly well Catholicism, the official religion of Haiti. The main thing is holy, like ghosts, believe in an afterlife and invisible spirits, as well as the protection of the patron saints, voodoo is not different from traditional religions.

Source by Yvonne Perry

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