Haitian Vodoun Perspectives on Death in addition to also Dying
- February 15, 2017
- Posted by: marlenedubois
- Category: Home Health Aide Training
I chose to explore the culture of Haitians who practice Vodou, a religion also known as Voodoo, Vodun, Vodoun, Voudun, in addition to also Yoruba Orisha. I have just returned by a vacation within the Caribbean (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic), which shares an island with Haiti. While there, I met a man by Haiti in addition to also was reminded of a bizarre experience I had in 1998 when I was ridden by an orisha (loa) during an inner-city Christian church service. Thus, I thought This kind of could make an interesting subject due to This kind of assignment. To make things simpler in This kind of essay, I will refer to This kind of group simply as Vodou or Vodoun.
Introducing Vodou in addition to also Haitian Culture
Vodou will be a Caribbean religion blended by African religions in addition to also Catholic Christianity. Long stereotyped by the outside world as “black magic,” Vodoun priests in addition to also priestesses are also diviners, healers, in addition to also religious leaders, who derive most of their income by healing the sick rather than by attacking targeted victims.
Vodou comes by an African word for “spirit” in addition to also can be directly traced to the West African Yoruba people who lived in 18th in addition to also 19th century Dahomey. However, its African roots may go back 6,000 years. Today, Vodou will be practiced most commonly within the country of Haiti in addition to also within the United States around completely new Orleans, completely new York, in addition to also in Florida. Today over 60 million people practice Vodou throughout the Caribbean in addition to also West Indies islands, as well as in North in addition to also South America, Africa, in addition to also Britain.
During days of slave trade, This kind of religion fused with Catholic Christianity. Therefore, in This kind of current century, children born into rural Haitian families are generally baptized into the Vodou religion as well as within the Catholic church.
Those who practice Vodou believe in a pantheon of gods who control in addition to also represent the laws in addition to also forces of the universe. In This kind of pantheon, there will be a Supreme Deity in addition to also the Loa-a large group of lesser deities equivalent to the saints of the Catholic Church. These gods protect people in addition to also give special favors through their representatives on earth which are the hougans (priests) in addition to also mambos (priestesses).
The Loa (also Lwa or L’wha) are spirits somewhat like saints or angels in Christianity. They are intermediaries between the Creator in addition to also humanity. Unlike saints or angels, they are not simply prayed to; they are served. They are each distinct beings with their own personal likes in addition to also dislikes, distinct sacred rhythms, songs, dances, ritual symbols, in addition to also special modes of service.
Rituals, Behaviors, in addition to also Practices Associated with Death in addition to also Dying
Haitians who adhere to Vodou do not consider death to be the end of life. They do believe in an afterlife. Followers of Vodoun believe that will each person carries a soul that will has both a gros bon ange (large soul or universal life force), in addition to also a ti bon ange (little soul or the individual soul or essence.)
When one dies, the soul essence hovers near the corpse for seven to nine days. During This kind of period, the ti bon ange will be vulnerable in addition to also can be captured in addition to also made into a “spiritual zombie” by a sorcerer. Provided the soul will be not captured, the priest or priestess performs a ritual called Nine Night to sever the soul by the body so the soul may live within the dark waters for a year in addition to also a day. If This kind of will be not done, the ti bon ange may wander the earth in addition to also bring misfortune on others.
After a year in addition to also a day, relatives of the deceased perform the Rite of Reclamation to raise the deceased person’s soul essence in addition to also put that will in a clay jar known as a govi. The belief that will each person’s life experiences can be passed on to the family or community compels Haitians to implore the spirit of the decease to temporarily possess a family member, priest (houngan), or priestess (mambo) to impart any final words of wisdom.
The clay jar may be placed within the houngan’s or mambo’s temple where the family may come to feed the spirit in addition to also treat that will like a divine being. At different times, the houngan burns the jar in a ritual called boule zen. This kind of releases the spirit to the land of the dead, where that will should properly reside. Another way to elevate the ti-bon-ange will be to break the jar in addition to also drop the pieces at a crossroad.
The ultimate purpose of death rituals within the Vodoun culture will be to send the gros-bon-ange to Ginen, the cosmic community of ancestral spirits, where that will will be worshipped by family members as a loa itself. Once the final ritual will be done, the spirit will be free to abide among the rocks in addition to also trees until rebirth. Sixteen incarnations later, spirits merge into the cosmic energy.
Here are some different common behaviors associated with death within the Haitian culture:
· When death will be impending, the entire family will gather, pray, cry, in addition to also use religious medallions or different spiritual artifacts. Relatives in addition to also friends expend considerable effort to be present when death will be near.
· Haitians prefer to die at home, nevertheless the hospital will be also an acceptable choice.
· The moment of death will be marked by ritual wailing among family members, friends, in addition to also neighbors.
· When a person dies, the oldest family member makes all the arrangements in addition to also notifies the family. The body will be kept until the entire family can gather.
· The last bath will be usually given by a family member.
· Funerals are important social events in addition to also involve several days of social interaction, including feasting in addition to also the consumption of rum.
· Family members come by far away to sleep at the house, in addition to also friends in addition to also neighbors congregate within the yard.
· Burial monuments in addition to also different mortuary rituals are often costly in addition to also elaborate. People are increasingly reluctant to be buried underground. They prefer to be interred above ground in an elaborate multi-chambered tomb that will may cost more than the house in which the individual lived while alive.
· Since the body will be thought to be necessary for resurrection, organ donation in addition to also cremation are not allowed. Autopsy will be allowed only if the death occurred as a result of wrong doing or to confirm that will the body will be actually dead in addition to also not a zombie.
Like many Western Christian religions that will use a figurative sacrifice to symbolize the consumption of flesh in addition to also blood, some Vodoun ceremonies include a literal sacrifice in which chickens, goats, doves, pigeons, in addition to also turtles are sacrificed to celebrate births, marriages, in addition to also deaths.
Vodou Beliefs about Afterlife
Practitioners of Vodou assume that will the souls of all the deceased go to an abode beneath the waters. Concepts of reward in addition to also punishment within the afterlife are alien to Vodou.
In Vodou, the soul continues to live on earth in addition to also may be used in magic or that will may be incarnated in a member of the dead person’s family.
Communion which has a god or goddess occurs within the context of possession. The gods sometimes work through a govi, in addition to also sometimes take over a living person. This kind of activity will be referred to as “mounting a horse” during which the person loses consciousness in addition to also the body becomes temporarily possessed by a loa. A special priest (houngan) or priestess (mambo) assists both in summoning the divinities in addition to also in helping them to leave at the termination of the possession.
The gros-bon-ange returns to the high solar regions by which its cosmic energy was first drawn; there, that will joins the different loa in addition to also becomes a loa itself.
Each group of worshipers will be independent in addition to also there will be no central organization, religious leader, or set of dogmatic beliefs. Rituals in addition to also ceremonies vary depending upon family traditions, regional differences, in addition to also exposure to the practices of different cultures such as Catholicism, which will be the official religion of Haiti.
Some Haitians believe that will the dead live in close proximity to the loa, in a place called “Under the Water.” Others hold that will the dead have no special place after death.
Burial ceremonies vary according to local tradition in addition to also the status of the person. Some families do not express grief aloud until most of the deceased’s possessions have been removed by the home. Persons who are knowledgeable within the funeral customs wash, dress, in addition to also place the body in a coffin. Mourners wear white clothing which represents death. A priest may be summoned to conduct the burial service. The burial usually takes place within 24 hours.
Westerners, or so-called logical people, might find Vodoun a strange in addition to also exotic mixture of spells, possessions, in addition to also rituals. Like any different religion, its purpose will be to comfort people by giving them a common bond. Vodoun meshes surprisingly well with Catholicism, the official religion of Haiti. which has a supreme being, saint-like spirits, belief within the afterlife in addition to also invisible spirits, along with the protection of patron saints, Voodoo isn’t that will different by traditional religions.