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Dancing with the Undead - Halloween pales next to Haiti's annual voodoo holiday

It is nearing midnight, and we are driving down narrow streets as potholed and bumpy as the back roads of rural Canada after winter.


``This must be it,'' our driver and Creole interpreter, Sebastian Petion, murmurs as he peers out the window of the 4X4.

We are deep in the heart of Carrefour, a slum in Port-au-Prince, the capital city of Haiti. Today is Jour des Morts, or Day of the Dead, and we are here to attend a vodoun, or voodoo, possession ceremony.

Jour des Morts is when Ghede, the family of spirits that rule over death and fertility, make a pilgrimage to the corporeal world, lured by voodoo priests and priestesses, music and fetishes.

We disembark in total blackness - electricity is a rare commodity in Haiti. In the distance, a sickly green light, created by a chugging generator, emanates from a low-slung concrete structure that is normally used for cockfighting.

 



Inside, about 150 people cram on one side of a makeshift stage: heavy twine wound around thin, crooked posts that are driven into the uneven dirt floor. The ceiling is festooned with flashy bunting, which hangs alongside crudely drawn cut-outs of the male phallus. Thirteen mambos, or female priestesses, pace about the tiny corral. They are clad in long purple dresses or skirts, their heads covered in tight black scarves, the favoured colours of Ghede.

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