At a Veye (a kind of a wake ceremony) in a small Vodou-temple in Port-au-Prince, the deceased is represented by a calabash in a bowl of water mixed with a mix of various spirits (alcohol), perfumes and herbs. Singing and drumming on the calabash for 4 to 6 hours to summon the Vodou spirits, the Hounsies (female servants) are finally calling upon the spirit of the deceased. Once the spirit has been lured into the calabash, it is carried outside and the spirit is set free.
Haitian Vodou is a syncretic religion with roots in West African traditional religions and influences from European religions, such as Catholicism. It developed in Haiti during the 16th century colonial period and was shaped by the Haitian Revolution. It continues to evolve and is an important part of Haitian culture.
In Haitian Vodou, it is believed that the spirits of the deceased can be reincarnated as plants, animals, or even inanimate objects, and that they can also be reincarnated as human beings. This belief in reincarnation is an important part of Haitian Vodou spiritual practice, and it is a way for practitioners to honor and pay respect to their ancestors.
Thank you to Mambo Sonja, her family and members of the small Vodou community she was a part of. And a huge thank you to my fixer, translator and dear friend, Emmanuel Delone aka Snoop – may he rest in peace.