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Celebrating The Dead, Voodoo Style, In Mattapan

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The practice of Vodou, or Voodoo as it is more often known, is common in Haiti. And it’s common in Boston, too.

After New York and Miami, Boston has the third-largest concentration of Haitian immigrants in the U.S. Between 50,000 and 100,000 Haitians live in the Boston area in close-knit communities, predominantly in and around Mattapan, and many of them practice Vodou.

“It’s sort of uncountable because so many people practice underground,” said author Calvin Hennick, who has been researching the practice of Vodou in both Haiti and Boston.

Vodou developed when Roman Catholic and West African religious beliefs blended after slaves were brought to Haiti in the 16th century.

As part of his research, Hennick attended a Haitian Vodou ritual called Fet Gede at a house in Mattapan.

“It’s just a regular house most days of the year,” Hennick said, “but the basement is decorated to look like a peristyle, which is a voodoo temple.”

Fet Gede honors the dead. The ritual is especially important this year because many Haitians are struggling to survive, according to Maude Evans, who is a Mambo, or Vodou priestess.

“It’s the first year after the earthquake and we want to celebrate the dead really big this year,” Evans said. “It’s a way to just acknowledge that we’ve lost so many. We just want to represent the dead. “

Guest:

  • Calvin Hennick, author
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