Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ouidah, Benin – the birth place of Voodoo

Ouidah, Benin on the Western Coast of the country is the birthplace to voodoo and much of the country believes in various forms of animist religions. Small fetishes (voodoo offerings to the gods) can be seen above and beside doorways and larger fetish temples exist throughout the country. The most obvious fetishes are the remnants of blood and chicken feather that can be seen in many places.

Although I can’t begin to understand the religion and its practices, I did come upon one annual ceremony and able to view the activities and dances that followed. I also stopped by the more touristy Temple de Pythons, where, for a few cfas, they will drape you with live pythons and take your photo. Pythons are a big thing in Benin and when I was up north, far from the Python Temple, a kid I befriended saw the picture of me with them he was so shocked that he made everyone on the street come look at the photo and all their eyes opened wide.

In the North in the Tata Somba country, I found my favorite fetishes. Outside the local houses there are many different sized mounds. Each mound represents a member of the family. Prayers and sacrifices are made on these mounds to protect the people. The part I found most touching was that they said that even if a family member moved far away to Europe and such, the family could continue to pray for and protect them at home.

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