We all have them. A doting parent, a best friend, a precocious child, a favorite teacher, a supportive colleague… Lost, too soon, to the other side. The dead. The wheel turns, their numbers swell—with those who happened to be in front of us, even when it didn’t appear so. The first painful passings repeat, like sunsets and new moons and harvests, until we surrender with a humble nod to a power greater than ourselves. Then it’s our turn.
The golden rule is instructive. How do you want loved ones to remember you when you make the final irreversible journey? Would you ask them to weep each time the anniversary of your death transpires? Or would you prefer that they gather to celebrate you with music and dance? Would you counsel them to immerse their pain in a bottle? Or would you rather they pour a libation, make a toast, and share the bottle?
My friends in Haiti and in the Haitian communities of New York believe in feeding the dead. When you nourish them, they nourish you. My very best friend on the other side, Master Drummer Frisner Augustin, raised the notion of exchange over and over in his interviews, and he was fond of the saying, “One hand washes the other.” Haitians observe November 2 as the day of the dead, but one may continue the festivities throughout the entire month. An offering of food and drink, even to the invisible, will go a long way. Try it!
Makandal invites you to its celebration of the Gede, spirits of the dead,
November 22nd. Find complete information about the party here.
Featured Image: Devotees party with Gede as he rides Manbo Philomène.
Grand Cimitière, Port-au-Prince, November 2, 1987