Monday, 14 January 2013

The Frame | Voodoo Festival

Photo © AP / Jon Gambrell-Courtesy SacBee's The Frame
The Frame, the Sacramento Bee's photo blog, features photographs of the exciting Benin's Voodoo Festival. This is certainly one festival I would have loved to attend, but it completely fell off my radar. Perhaps next year? It appears it's held every January 10th. There are also a number of travel companies that can arrange for tourists (oh, no!!) to attend the festival.

But who knows? Perhaps a future destination for one of The Travel Photographer's Photo Expeditions-Workshops?

Ouidah, on the Atlantic coast of Benin, is where voodoo began, and the launching point for its voyage to the Americas with the boatloads of African slaves. It is also the mecca for the spirits and gods worshipped by practitioners of Voodoo, or Vodun, a recognised religion in this former French colony in West Africa that is home to 9 million people.

According to the accompanying write up on The Frame, local banks and the post office closed as Ouidah celebrated this annual festival,; which is increasingly drawing curious foreigners. With its mix of beliefs and traditions, the Voodoo practiced here shows both a clash of cultures and the ability for ancient traditional beliefs to adapt to modern life.

Voodoo, or Orisha, as it is practiced today, originated many hundred years ago among the Yoruba people who live in the region of modern-day Togo, Benin and parts of Nigeria. Followers of voodoo believe in an unapproachable god and an array of spirits who serve as intermediaries. Slaves, forced to leave Benin's sandy shores in their millions, took such beliefs to the U.S. and the islands of the West Indies, where they spread and formed the basis of religions like Candomblé, Macumba, Santería and Umbanda.