sounds of Haiti
Rara festival, Kabic (Haiti), Easter, 2005
Rara music is a Lenten processional music with strong ties to the Vodou religious tradition. It has been commonly confused with Haitian Carnival since both celebrations involve large groups of dancing revelers in the streets. Rara is performed between Ash Wednesday (the day after Carnival ends) until Easter Sunday (or Easter Monday in some parts of Haiti.) Rara bands roam the streets performing religious ceremonies as part of their ritual obligations to the “lwa” or spirits of Haitian Voodoo. Guédé, a spirit associated with death and sexuality, is an important spiritual presence in Rara celebrations and often possesses an ougan (male Voodoo priest) or mambo (female Voodoo priest) before the band begins its procession in order to bless the participants and wish them safe travels for their nightly sojourns.