Haiti 70% Catholic, 30% Protestant, And 100% Voudou.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons by Doron. Voudou paraphenalia for sale in a shop.
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“We don’t care if they hate us, because they can’t bury us,” Voudoun religious congregants sing in Haiti.

Recent gang-driven violence has left more than 360,000 people homeless, largely shut down Haiti’s biggest seaport and closed the main international airpor in Port au Prince t two months ago.

Supplies of the most basic goods including food and life-saving medication are dwindling; nearly 2 million Haitians are on the verge of famine–simply not enough to eat to stay alive.

From January to March alone, more than 2,500 Haitians were killed or injured, up more than 50% from the same period last year, according to the U.N.

Amid the spiraling chaos, numerous Haitians are praying more or visiting Vodou priests known as “oungans” for urgent requests ranging from locating loved ones who were kidnapped to finding critical medication needed to keep someone alive.

Shunned publicly by politicians and intellectuals for centuries, Vodou is transforming into a more powerful and accepted religion across Haiti where its believers were once persecuted as people seek solace and protection from violent gangs that have killed, raped, and kidnapped thousands in recent years.

Vodou has no central institutional authority, no single leader, and no developed body of doctrine. It thus has no orthodoxy, no central liturgy, and no formal creed.

Developing over the course of several centuries, it has changed over time.It displays variation at both the regional and local level—including variation between Haiti and the Haitian diaspora—as well as among different congregations.

It is practiced domestically, by families on their land, but also by congregations meeting communally, with the latter termed “temple Vodou”.

Amid the spiraling chaos, a growing number of Haitians are praying more or visiting Vodou priests known as Oungans for urgent requests ranging from locating loved ones who were kidnapped to finding critical medication needed to keep someone alive.

Vodou was at the root of the revolution that led Haiti to become the world’s first free Black republic, a religion born in West Africa and brought across the Atlantic by slaves.

The syncretic religion that melds Catholicism with animist beliefs has no official leader or creeds. It has a single God known as “Bondye,” Creole for “Good God,” and more than a thousand spirits known as “lwas,” some which aren’t always benevolent.

During Vodou ceremonies, lwas are offered everything from papayas to coffee and even popcorn, lollipops and cheese puffs on occasion, and a ceremony is considered successful if a Vodouist is possessed by a lwa.

In recent years Vodou has been attracting more believers given the surge in gang violence and government inaction, said Cecil Elien Isac, a 4th-generation oungan.

When Isac opened his temple years ago in Port-au-Prince, about eight families in the area became members. Now he counts more than 4,000, both in Haiti and abroad.

It has since become a key ingredient in Haiti’s rich cultural scene, inspiring music, art, writing and dance.
It’s unknown how many people currently practice Vodou in Haiti, but there’s a popular saying: “Haiti is 70% Catholic, 30% Protestant, and 100% Vodou.”

While Vodou also has countless laws or spirits, Ogou Je Wouj, or the god of red eyes, a manifestation of the god of war, has grown more significant to Haitians given the lack of security in the country.

Sources: Africanews, AP.
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