january 10 is national vodun holiday in benin. i was eager to see this side of benin’s culture… statistics say that benin is 30% christian, 20% islam and 50% “traditional” religion, but most people here would tell you it’s 50% christian, 50% islam and 100% vodun. whether people practice vodun or not, everyone believes in it.
so i went to one of the largest vodun fetes in benin yesterday, near porto novo.
these men are dancing to drums that are supposed to induce trances. they are wearing costumes that are supposed to resemble the gods. i’ll try to upload video later.
these boys are walking with snakes around their necks, which are vodun spirits.
you can see more pictures here.
it’s hard to explain what i saw. benin is the birthplace of vodun, which became voodoo as it moved across the ocean via slavery. it’s definitely not what hollywood portrays. i guess the strangest thing was seeing how real vodun is for so many, while feeling totally untouched by its effects. crowds of people would scatter in loud chaos as someone in a trance would chase after them… i didn’t move a muscle. to me, it felt more like a costume party.
anyway, i’m glad i went, and it does explain the culture a bit more, but i’m also glad i went with a group of friends that were as unaffected as i was.