Haitian Music: Rara Essay

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Haitian Music: Rara Haiti has a very interesting history of culture and religion. Currently, while Roman Catholicism is the official religion, Voodoo can be considered the national religion; about half of all Haitians practice it. This culture and religious history – and current practice – is essential in understanding one of the most important genres of music in Haiti; Rara. One of the most important aspects of Voodoo is the summoning of the Lwa, or spirits. This is done in a service and drumming is an essential part of this service because it provides music. Dancing is also a very important part of the service. These services involve nearly everyone through either the drumming or the dancing. There are two different types of…show more content…
Having said that, it is actually very much religious in ways that the other Caribbean festivals and carnivals are not. Each Rara band is associated with a lwa; each band is usually asked to be formed by that lwa. In fact, the Rara itself is a gift to the lwa. In the middle of the procession there is a ceremony going on for the lwa of the Rara band. At the same time, they are “heating-up” their instruments. Sometimes, they go to the cemetery so they can ask permission to capture zombi spirits – recently dead – so that they can help to “heat up the band”. This is a very complicated ritual. The Haitians that practice Voodoo associate with the Jews because when the Haitians were African slaves, the Europeans expressly considered both Jews and Africans to be devil worshippers. This works into the Rara because many bands will perform elaborate passion plays about the suffering and death of Jesus, while others will make straw dummies of either Judas, or a generic Jew, and imitate what the Pharisees did to Jesus – dragging him through the streets and beating him – and at the end of it they burn the doll, as opposed to Jesus hanging on the cross. In a different version of Rara, it is believed that Rara is actually a Jewish festival that the Haitians continue in order to keep ancestral Jewish traditions alive. In addition to the history and Jewish comparison, these Rara festivals are thought of in a military sense; they are thought to be the military branch

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