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Are you prepared for Haiti Carnival 2014?
President Michelle Martelly announced the Haiti Carnival 2014 in Gonaives this March 2nd, 3rd, and 4th
Haiti is a picturesque country in the Caribbean that is full of joy, beauty and colors. Adorned with scenic landscapes and sandy beaches, the land is a tourist’s paradise. Apart from basking in the sun and enjoying the cool waters of the seas, there are several things to do in this beautiful country. Haiti is well known for its colorful carnivals, the chief among them being the annually held Haiti Carnival.
The much-awaited Haiti Carnival 2014 offers an invitation to everyone to come and participate in the revelry and enjoy themselves. In 2014, the celebrations will be held at Gonaives. The theme for the event is yet to be specified. This is the 3rd time the Haitian Carnival is not being held in the capital. Before this, in 2013, it was held in Cap-Haitian and in 2012, it was held in Les Cayes.
The beautiful country of Haiti is widely popular for its fun-filled extravagant carnivals that are equally popular now as they were several decades ago. The culture of these celebrations has been maintained very well in the country, and is also becoming increasingly popular in the rest of the world in places such as Toronto, London, and New York City. According to some observations, while carnival might be fading away in some of the Caribbean countries due to political organization and force, it has somehow remained prevalent in the country of Haiti.
A brief History of Carnival
The word ‘Carnival’ has its origin in the Catholic religion in the country of Italy. The members of this religion started a tradition that was conducted before the first day of Lent. As Lent is regarded as a time to abstain from food, adopt conservatism, and abandon gluttony, the time before that was seen as an opportunity to indulge in fancy costumes and food. The carnival celebrations started to spread to other countries in Europe, such as Spain, Portugal, and France, and as these countries started gaining control over the Caribbean, America, and other parts of the world, the celebrations continued to spread.
Carnaval Haiti: How it Started
The Haitian Carnival derives its meaning and tradition from age-old Christian beliefs and practices. While a carnival comprises a great deal of music, dance, and costumes, the true purpose of the event lies in its ability to enable people to express their beliefs, ideas, and creativity both locally and internationally.
Carnival in the country of Haiti started with the slave owners who engaged in it exclusively until 1804, after which it was adopted by the liberated slaves who used it for their own needs. The carnival season starts in January, referred to as Pre-Kanaval. The main celebrations start in February every year, and end on Mardi Gras, a French word which means “Fat Tuesday.” This is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday which marks the start of the Lenten season that precedes Easter.
Kanaval Haiti comes dotted with art, costume, song, and dance that carry significant symbolic meanings. This annual celebration is marked by dances on streets by the residents. These celebrations generally happen during the carnival season, which is two weeks before Lent. This is also a time for gluttony, based on the belief that all stored food must be finished off before Lent so that it does not go waste after the festival. Wearing exotic costumes, the revelers engage in elaborate partying.
The celebrations enabled people to engage in the various pleasures of life before the beginning of the somber period of penance and fasting. The carnival is influenced largely by several local customs and Haitian music.
The Haitian Carnival is held over many weeks every year and it leads up to Mardi Gras. The Haitian Creole name of the annual carnival is Haitian Defile Kanaval. The largest carnival is held in the largest city in Haiti, the capital Port-au-Prince. Several smaller celebrations take place simultaneously in different areas in Haiti such as Aux, Jacmel, and Cayes.
The annual celebration in Haiti coincides with the other Mardi Gras celebrations the world over. The country also has many small carnivals throughout the year that are separate from the main annual one. One of this is Rara: a series of processions which take place at the time of the Catholic Lent Season. It also has parades and bands that resemble the main carnival. There is also another annual carnival, Kanaval de Fleur, which happens in July.
Thousands of tourists flock from all parts of the world to enjoy Live Carnaval Haiti. Initially these festivities were regarded as “sinful” by protestant Haitians and they were also asked by their ministers to refrain from participating. The carnival was criticized for encouraging wild dancing, anti-establishment music lyrics, plays mocking the government, and the like. The Haitian Carnival was curtailed by the devastating 2010 earthquake. However, it still happened in a subdued scale and it continued successfully in the subsequent years.
Features of the Carnival
The carnival presents a joyous celebration of music and culture. It is the biggest celebration in the country, and one of the largest and most exuberant in the Caribbean. In a country that is often engaged in political upheavals, the celebrations reveal the political scenario of the country. At times, they have been known to predict the fate of the government as well.
Carnaval Haiti has certain features which range from the costumes they wear to the music they play. It takes several weeks of hard work to put together a carnival band. The lavish celebrations are funded by businesses, the government, and rich Haitian families. A lot of energy, creativity and patience go into creating all the stunning components. All this work happens in what is termed as “mas camps.” Organization and teamwork are the pre-requisites to help create a splendid production.
The costumes that are worn during the event are huge and often require a lot of energy and time to make. Often times they are made by bending wires into shapes, which are then covered with foam or papier-mache. Care is taken to make them strong and sturdy to be able to withstand the long hours of celebration. Extremely creative masks are often part of the elaborate costumes. These masks transform the physical as well as the psychic personality of the wearer.
Music is one of the most important ingredients of the Haiti Kanaval. Musicians generally engage in a wide range of genres, including Haitian rap, zouk, Compas music, and mizik rasin. This is the biggest annual event, and this is where the bands get extensive public exposure. This is an opportunity to perform at big concerts, and there are also competitions held among several bands.
Bands have over 100 members who practice for several months for the carnival. Most of them engage in wild dance as they parade the streets. These are some of the observable elements of the carnival that splash color and life on the streets of Haiti.
Some of the artists slated to perform at Haiti Kanaval 2014 include some well known and widely popular names such as Harmonik, T-Vice, Carimi, Kreyol La, Djakout, Zenglen, Nu-Look, and Disip. They are expected to enthrall the audience with their spellbinding performances. Their music videos are on the verge of release and can be expected to be received well by one and all. As in the past, this year many more artists are expected to perform and give the audience a great time.
The Kanaval Haiti live parades are comprised of floats that sometimes also have children participants. They generally have sound systems that are set up on trucks and play music while the crowds dance on the streets. The colorful parades make their way all through the streets of the capital city and conclude with the celebrations at Champ De Mars, situated close to the former residence of the president of Haiti.
Food & Shows
Several food stalls selling a variety of fare are a popular part of the Haitian Carnaval. One can partake of some of the best local as well as some international delicacies in these stalls. It is an excellent show of the immense creativity of the Haitians. Another feature of the celebrations is comedy shows that are performed by carnival participants, and generally make fun of political topics.
One more feature of the celebrations is the one-on-one fights that are conducted between young Haitian men. They are referred to as ‘gagann.’ In these fights, the combatants, who are surrounded by supporters, aim to put the opponent down by blows on the chest.
Haiti Carnival 2014 is one festival that no one can afford to miss. Rich in culture every year, it offers an excellent time to celebrate and have a great time. Every day of the festival has something new to offer the audience, and the mind-blowing creativity of the artists always leaves the audience spell-bound. Though after being hit by the earthquake the celebrations decreased, the country is again looking to restore its former glory.
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