lundi 2 novembre 2015

Haitians flow into cemeteries to mark Voodoo day of the dead

A woman in the role of a spirit known as a Gede dances during a Voodoo
ritual in tribute to Baron Samdi and the Gede family of spirits during Day of
the Dead celebrations at the National  Cemetery in Port-au-Prince,
 Haiti, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015.  Ricardo Arduengo AP

Associated Press
Revelers streamed into cemeteries across Haiti on Sunday bearing beeswax candles, food offerings and bottles of rum infused with hot peppers to mark the country’s annual Voodoo festival of the dead.
At Port-au-Prince’s sprawling national cemetery, Voodoo priests and priestesses gathered around a blackened monument that is believed to be the oldest grave. There, they lit candles and stoked small fires as they evoked the spirit Baron Samedi, the guardian of the dead who is typically depicted with a dark top hat and a white skull face.
Some filled their mouths with fiery rum and sprayed it over the tomb’s cross. As if in a trance, one young man wrapped in a paisley print sheet chewed up bits of a broken glass bottle, but onlookers who scrambled on burial vaults to get a better look didn’t buy his performance. “Thief!” they shouted, as he spat out blood.
Minutes later, the crowd perched atop the tombs gave respect to a priestess with a purple scarf wrapped around her head as she danced in a spastic manner and made a keening lament.
Other Haitians gathered among the tombs to quietly remember dead relatives and ask spirits to grant favors or provide guidance. One man paid a soothsayer for advice on how to increase his chances at winning bets at Haitian outlets that play on New York State Lottery numbers.
Vendors who set up shop in the cemeteries did a brisk business selling pictures of Catholic saints alongside candles, rum and rosary beads.
Voodoo, or Vodou as preferred by Haitians, evolved in the 17th century when colonists brought slaves to Haiti from West Africa. Slaves forced to practice Catholicism adopted saints to coincide with personalities in the African religions. Voodoo was sanctioned as an official religion in 2003 and it is practiced widely across the country of 10 million inhabitants.
This year’s two-day celebration comes shortly before Haitian officials are expected to announce the top two finishers in a presidential first-round vote. Electoral authorities say they plan to release the preliminary results of the presidential vote on Tuesday, after the Voodoo festival concludes.
Voodoo priest Pierre Saint Ange cracked a rope whip on a crumbling tomb and told onlookers not to “fight with guns or burn tires” in coming days.
“We are asking for peace,” he cried, standing near three women with their faces smeared in white paint.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/article42160887.html#storylink=cpy

Swampscott siblings lend a hand in Haiti

Posted: Monday, November 2, 2015
By Gayla Cawley / The Daily Item
Gayla Cawley
Posted on Nov 2, 2015by Gayla Cawley
SWAMPSCOTT — Two Swampscott High siblings say their volunteer trip to Haiti during this summer taught them that even small gestures of charity and friendship can go a long way.
Brother and sister Joseph and Shama Varghese went to Haiti for 10 days in August as part of a group from their church, the Shepherd’s House of Woburn, to help build an orphanage and school for children.
Although the group was only there for a short time, and by Shama’s admission, “there wasn’t much you can do in 10 days,” the siblings know they made a difference.
“We definitely accomplished something,” Joseph Varghese said.
Shama said “you could see people in the orphanage were really happy. I guess a small amount makes a big difference.”
The siblings talked about their trip during a meeting last month of the Swampscott Rotary Club, which helped with the fundraising for the trip.
“We especially enjoyed hearing Shama and Joseph tell us about their trip, hearing their stories of interaction with the children at the school and seeing their trip pictures,” said Buck Weaver, a member of the Rotary Club. “And we are most impressed by the dedication and spirit of giving that Shama and Joseph have shown. They are certainly the kind of young adults that we are all proud to know.”
Shama, 16, a junior, said the church had been planning on doing some type of missionary work. She said planning for the trip started in May and resulted in a group of five youths and four adults from the church making the trip to Haiti. She said the connection with the Rotary Club was established because Weaver is her orthodontist.
Joseph, 14, a freshman, said the group stayed at the orphanage that was being built. He said work was also done on a nearby pastor’s house that had become worn down after years of use, as the children in the area would often seek refuge there.
Shama said a different orphanage had existed prior to the one they worked on, but had been completely destroyed by the 2010 earthquake, resulting in the death of three orphans. She said she and her brother helped with painting in the three buildings — the orphanage, school and pastor’s house — because the walls were very worn down. She said she would advise others looking to do similar service work to keep an open mind.
“I understand going to other countries is scary,” Shama Varghese said. “They do need help. Originally it (Haiti) was a poor country. The big disaster made it even worse. Just expect the best of the trip.”
Joseph said other work included building doors and windows. He said with the pastor’s house, he helped with breaking walls. He said the group was able to buy a bunch of school supplies for the children who would be attending the new all-grade school, which is set to open sometime this month.
He said he was struck by how much energy the children had. When the group was there, he said the children were on summer break, but that didn’t prevent them from waking up each morning at 5 a.m. for their daily devotionals, followed by another bible study later in the day and the rest of the day taken up by constant playing outside.
Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com​