Celebrating the voodun New Year

Trip Start Jun 03, 2003
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Trip End Jun 01, 2005


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Flag of Benin  ,
Monday, January 10, 2005

January tenth marks the new year on the calendar of the cult of voodoo in Benin, and as such, is a national holiday. I made arrangements to attend a traditional ceremony in Bohicon, near Abomey, the cultural capitol of Benin.
Met by Dah, the son of the voodoo chief and a traditional healer, I was brought to a ceremony in which people, all dressed in white, prayed and made offerings to the gods and to their ancestors for a safe new year.
Interestingly, it is said that the white is worn due to the proximity of the holiday to the winter solstace. After this day, days grow longer and longer, thus it is sign of light. In addition, the white symbolizes the cult of mamiwata (the gods of water) worshippers.
In the center of the room was a pool of water around which money and bottles of alcohol were offered as sacrifices to the gods. People went one by one to pray for the gods blessings in the new year and then danced away. We all prayed head, knees and hands to the ground several times while people played drums, rattles, and sang songs. It was an incredibly intense and interesting experience.
At one point, we went outside to call all the spirits of the world into the building. Then we prayed to send away all the bad ones. In the end, the ceremony was to bring blessings to all present in the new year.
After the ceremony, we ate lunch with the voodoo chief and his son. We also went to the ancestors house, a house kept especially for ancestors, where the chiefs son, the traditional healer, performed divinations ie: told peoples fortunes.
I asked two questions, only one of which I will share here and vaguely at that. I asked about my future, a certain situation --oh-- and it could be anyone,anything alas... Dah told me that it is not fate that we I should do this thing, but that it is in my power to make it my fate.
But, does one force destiny?
No.
And thus begins another year of trusting the universe instead.
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