Benin is famous for its Voodoo culture. In January the major Voodoo festival of Benin and perhaps the world is held in Ouidah, at the beach near the monument for the slaves, The Door of No Return. This festival attracts thousands of Voodoo worshipers from Benin, but also from other West African countries, The Caribbean and the America's.
Voodoo or Vodun
The word Vodun, comes from the Fon and Ewe Languages and it means 'Sprit'. Voodoo uses spirits and other organic elements (earth and sea,animals) in rites. In Voodoo the world of the living the dead and the spirits are intertwined. Benin is the birthplace of Voodoo but the religion is practiced in coastal West Africa from Ghana to Nigeria.
The Voodoo Festival in Ouidah
This festival is one of the most vibrant I have ever seen. An intense experience. At the start of the festival the different Voodoo chiefs congregate, speeches are made and liquor is offered as a sacrifice.
A goat is slaughtered in honor of the spirits. Then there is dancing chanting and more sacrifices are made The festival is very vibrant and filled with many activities. The festival starts with the slaughter of a goat in honor of the spirits and is followed by lots of chanting, dancing and invocation of the spirits. More sacrifices are made for the favor of various spirits in the hope for blessings in return. The whole spectacle is very lively. The different tribes and cults can be recognized by the way they are dressed. You can see Yoruba's from Nigeria performing their traditional dances, veracious drummers and people getting in a trance and start talking to deceased descendants or cut themselves.
The colorful people and the mix of religion and occultism with energetic singing and dancing is an African treat that formed a highlight in my travels the past years.