For those of us who have not been called into the priesthood, however, there is another lively tradition in
that is particular to this season of the year. Beginning with Mardi Gras and throughout Lent, the RaRa Festival is celebrated. During this time – particularly on weekends – bands sashay down the streets of towns and villages alike, usually led by an houngan who serves as musical director and spiritual advisor. Haiti
Traditionally, the instruments include drums and horns repurposed from old pieces of metal, conch shells and voices. Dancers are usually along as well; sometimes jugglers and acrobats accompany the bands. Everyone is dressed in their brightest clothes and a general holiday atmosphere accompanies the RaRa players.
This noisy tradition was originally a country celebration, but it moved on to large cities fairly quickly. RaRa bands are at their loudest as they pass through crossroads, where their music and good cheer are believed to drive off evil.
The RaRa bands of
Haiti are said by some anthropologists, myself included, to be the ancestors of the now famous Second Line bands in . What goes around comes around, and good cheer is welcome everywhere. À la votre! New Orleans
Header: RaRa Band via
Metal Art Haiti