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Posted on Thursday, November 11 - 2004

In order to clear up the myths and false accusations regarding the practice of voodoo, the Haitian Student Association (HSA) hosted a program titled "All Souls Day: The Demystification of Voodoo, an Examination of Voodoo in the Caribbean Islands," Thursday evening in the Blackburn Center.Two panelists, Haitian-born Serge Bellegarde and Howard Caribbean history professor, Selwyn Covington, educated the packed room with information about the roots of Voodoo and why people should take a look at it without the negative bias the Christian religion has placed on it."Just as all religions have negative aspects, the Voodoo religion does,but for some reason, these negatives are given much more attention," Bellegarde said.According to Covington, there is no need to look far in order to understand the depth of voodoo in Haitian society.

It is in the dance and the drum beats in their popular music. All are based on the African culture. Voodoo does not sacrifice animals. It initiated divination by water or baptism and the use of the Holy cross. People who practice voodoo believe it holds an inner belief system that Christianity does not. Covington believes that despite its positive attributes, the mainstream tends to focus on the negative aspects. Exorcisms are practiced by Catholics to rid people of evil and voodoo heals as well. Because it is not done in person and without contact withthe person being healed, it is seen as out of the ordinary. The panelists wanted to clarify that sticking needles in dolls that many people see on television is black magic and is not associated with voodoo.As recent as 10 years ago, people were still being punished for practicing voodoo in certain parts of the world. In 1935, the Haitian penal code outlawed the practice with punishment of six months to two years in prison.

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