Celebration of death
Galería de Fotos | 22 Fotos Peter Eversoll
Fet Gede (also, spelled Fete Ghede or Guédé is a celebration of death and, conversely, life held in Vodou communities on November 2nd, although festivities around the Gede last into the month. It is very similar to “Dia de los Muertos” in both its connection to embracing the after-life, but also in its roots of colonized peoples subverting the forced Catholic conversion through integrating non-Catholic beliefs into established Catholic celebrations. However, it is very different in practice. The celebration is a time for giving appreciation to the Gede, who protect the dead, and to feast in honor of ancestors.
Port-au-Prince’s Grand Cemetery comes alive with Vodouists leaving tribute and incarnating Iwa, or spirits. Starting at dawn, devotees arrive to prepare the site by repainting crosses, lighting candles, and making offerings to the Barons, the Maman and other Gede, who arrive throughout the morning. The order of Iwa, including the Barons, Maman and the Gede are complex and rich in power and symbology that deserves more than just a quick summary.
The Barons and Maman represent the first man and woman buried in the cemetery and the other Gede generally act as playful figures who have fun with visitors (both alive and dead,) and some serve as soothsayers and conduits between the here and the underworld. To prove their ability to connect with the afterlife, incarnated Gede will drink Pima (raw rum spiced with 21 goat peppers,) or rub it in their eyes and genitals, others will pierce themselves with pins or speak in tongues.