One of the most important, interesting and surprising facts about that link between Haiti and Voodoo is that Haiti is a Catholic country. The other interesting and surprising facts is that most Voodoo ceremonies begin with a Catholic prayer. It is generally thought that the country is 70 percent Catholic, 30 percent Protestant and 100 percent Voodoo. Since 2003 Haiti has recognised Voodoo as a religion, but unlike the more traditional religions, such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam there are no sacred texts, churches, temples or mosques and there is no hierarchy of leadership.
However it is thought that the history of Voodoo reaches far back into history (over 6,000 years), and is based on traditions that have been used to honour nature and may have its origins in West Africa. During the 1700’s thousands of Africans were brought to Haiti to work on the plantations. When they arrived they were all baptised Catholics. They were forbidden to practice their own beliefs but continued to do so under the guise of practising Catholicism. In Western society Voodoo has been portrayed as Black Magic or in zombie movies giving it an air of satanic evil and human sacrifice, none of which is performed in Haiti. It is estimated that there are over 60 million people currently practising Voodoo throughout the world.
Ceremonies usually take the form of the followers gathering outdoors, by being outdoors it is believed that it is easier to make contact with any of the many gods that roam the universe (Loa). This is very similar to the role that the Greek gods of mythology took on. The priestess or priest then sacrifices an animal to the Loa. The reason for the sacrifice is that the Loa get worn out and they rely on humans to feed them, this feeding takes place by transferring the energy back to the Loa. The animal that is usually sacrificed is a chicken, the priest or priestess then asks the Loa spirits for advice or help with problems which are usually health based. Loa can make prophecies or give warnings which can come through the priest or may appear later in a dream. The Loa spirits have their own identities some are loving and some are demanding. It is believed that people becomes sick when the Loa are upset or annoyed.
When you stand back and look at Voodoo and Catholicism, there are many similarities, both religions are based around the beliefs of a supreme being; the existence of spirits and demons, an afterlife; they both focus their ceremonies on a central point, and during their services both consume flesh and blood; many of the Loa are considered in much the same way as saints and instead of St Peter at the gates of heaven, Voodoo has Legba. But there is one major difference between the two beliefs Voodoo does not believe in free will and personal choice.
Free Term Paper on Voodoo In Caribbean Culture
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The Caribbean was first explored by Christopher Columbus. It was named after the CARIB, a warlike tribe of cannibalistic Indians that occupied some of the Lesser Antilles at the time of the European conquest. Columbus’ discovery has lasting effects on the culture and religion of the area. Caribbean culture is a blend of many original cultures. The Caribbean people have struggled for centuries to retain their ancestral links while creating something entirely new and different. The food and religion plays an important role in the lives of the Caribbean people, a description of which is as follows.
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The main religion of the Caribbean is Voodoo. Voodoo or Vodou or Vodun is a pantheistic Afro-Caribbean Culture that has evolved from the fusion of different religious beliefs. It is the religion of Haiti but is also practiced in Brazil, Trinidad, Cuba and some southern states of USA especially Louisiana. It is mixture of religious practices from Roman Catholicism, “the Fon, the Nago, the Ibos, Dahomeans, Congos, Senegalese, Haussars, Caplaous, Mondungues, Mandinge, Angolese, Libyans, Ethiopians, and the Malgaches.” Voodoo has played a key role in the culture and history of the Caribbean people. Voodoo was first noticed during the period of European colonization of Hispaniola. The European colonists started slave trade and a large number of blacks were forcibly enslaved. This threat paved way for the development of Voodoo. Despite of the European attempts to divide the African tribes, it was their religion that kept them united. The African tribes were so much unified and strengthened by their common religious beliefs that in turn made them to resist the cruelty of the French rulers. The French banned the practice of all African religions and those who were found practicing Voodoo were severely penalized. This tussle went on for three centuries and throughout these years; the African tribes preserved their religion secretly. It was Voodoo that enabled the Africans to plan a revolution against the Europeans in 1791 and ended in a victory in 1804.
Voodoo holds a primary place in the Caribbean culture. The rituals of voodoo are used to contact spirits. There are various purposes for contacting spirits such as to ask their favor for healing against disease, and sometimes for protection against evils. The male and female priests called Houngan and Mambo respectively preside over each ritual. These rituals often take place in a Vodun temple called a ‘hounfour’.
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The Caribbean food consists of mainly African dishes and the ingredients include yams, corn meal, cassava, sweet potatoes, bananas and plantains. Some of the main cuisines of the Caribbean include Foo-foo, Bambula cake, or bammie, Cou-cou or Fungi, Conkies, or Duckanoo and many more. Most of the recipes are centuries old and passes over from generation to generation.
Religion or Voodoo has very strong impacts on the Caribbean culture and society throughout the years. It has been instrumental in the social and political changes and also exercises psychological and physical impacts. Voodoo is practiced in the form of black and white magic. White Magic s performed with the help of candles, oils, plants, and potions. It is done to get positive effects such as for the gain of love, power or money. The rituals or ceremonies are conducted by the Voodoo priests. The black magic or “Red Voodoo” is an opposite of white magic and is conducted for evil and harmful actions. It is conducted by a Bokor, who uses evil acts of sorcery that includes death and zombie curses. A zombie curse is a ritual in which the Bokor poisons his human subject, which results in his death. After three days, the dead is revived and the subject becomes the slave of the Bokor. Like the Greek and Roman mythology, the Voodoo also believes in multiple gods. These gods are responsible for the performance of different actions in the universe.