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Inside Fête Gede, Haiti’s ‘Day Of The Dead’ Celebration [GRAPHIC PHOTOS]

By Nadia-Elysse Harris

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Fête Gede, or “Festival of the Dead,” is one of the most important celebrations in the Voodoo religious calendar. In Haiti the event, which is commemorated yearly on the first and second days of November (All Saints Day and All Souls day respectively), is marked by converging on cemeteries to honor Haitian ancestors with rituals and sacrifices.

 

Though faced with a series of natural disasters, especially during hurricane season, Haitian Voodooists celebrate the day annually no matter what. “Life goes on after disasters,” Richard Morse, the leader of the Voodoo band RAM, told ABC News. “The only way Gede would be canceled is if a hurricane happened that day.”

 

In Haitian Voodoo, the Gede is a spirit related to death and fertility. The rituals  performed during Fête Gede are not for the faint of heart. Singing, dancing, and drinking are accompanied by animal sacrifices, various other offerings, and actual possessions by the spirits.

 

Here is a look inside Fête Gede, in photos.

 

day of the dead

PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI – NOVEMBER 01: Followers of Voodoo participate in All Saints Day (Day of the Dead) celebrations at the National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince November 1, 2010 in Port au Prince, Haiti. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

dsy of the desd

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI – NOVEMBER 1, 2010: A Vodou priestess, or mambo, baths a young woman to facilitate her passage into the spirit world in front of a cross dedicated to Baron Samedi, the head of the Gede family of spirits, the spirits of the dead, in the National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on All Saints Day, November 1, 2010. (Photo by Dario Mitidieri/Getty Images)

day of the dead

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI – NOVEMBER 1, 2010: A woman gets possesed by Gede next to a cross dedicated to Baron Samedi, in the National Cemetery of Port-au-Prince. (Photo by Dario Mitidieri/Edit by Getty Images)

Haitians pay homage to relatives with drink and religious items on All Saints’ Day at the municipal cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on November 1, 2010. (THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images)

A voodoo devotee in a trance, in the role of a spirit known as a Gede takes a body from a grave in a cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 1, 2015, while taking part in the ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirits of Baron Samdi and Gede during Day of the Dead. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

A voodoo devotee in a trance, in the role of a spirit known as a Gede takes a body from a grave in a cemtery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 1, 2015, while taking part in the ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirits of Baron Samdi and Gede during Day of the Dead. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI – NOVEMBER 2, 2010: Food and objects like dolls are offered to honor the spirit of the dead during a private celebration of the Day of the Dead in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Photo by Dario Mitidieri/Getty Images)

A believer in the role of the voodoo spirit Gede takes part in Day of the Dead celebrations at the Cemetery of Citie Soleil in Port-au-Prince, on November 2, 2014. Believers and devotees offer candles, alcohol and food.(HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

A devotee pretending to be the spirit known as a Gede looks on during a ceremony honoring the Haitian voodoo spirits of Baron Samdi and Gede on the Day of the Dead in the National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 1, 2016. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman devotee in the role of a spirit known as a Gede is seen during ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirit of Baron Samdi and Gede on the Day of the Dead in the Cementery of Cite Soleil, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 1, 2017. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

A voodoo devotee in a trance gestures during ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirit of Baron Samdi and Gede on the Day of the Dead in the National Cemetery, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on November 2, 2017. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

Voodoo followers take part in ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirit of Baron Samdi and Gede on the Day of the Dead in the Cementery of Cite Soleil, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 1, 2017. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman devotee in the role of a spirit known as a Gede is seen during ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirits of Baron Samdi and Gede on the Day of the Dead in the National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 2, 2015.  (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

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