Haitians flow into cemeteries to mark Voodoo day of the dead

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
24 PHOTOS
NTP: Haitians flow into cemeteries to mark Voodoo day of the dead
See Gallery
Haitians flow into cemeteries to mark Voodoo day of the dead
Voodoo followers take part in ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirits of Baron Samdi and Gede during Day of the Dead in a cemtery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 1, 2015. Believers and devotees offer candles, alcohol and food to the dead. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Two women participate in a Voodoo ritual in tribute to Baron Samdi and the Gede family of spirits during Day of the Dead celebrations at the National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Day of the Dead traditions coincide with All Saints Day and All Souls Day on Nov. 1 and 2. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
A woman in the role of a spirit known as a "Gede" looks on while holding a human bone in her hands during Day of the Dead celebrations at the National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Day of the Dead traditions coincide with All Saints Day and All Souls Day on Nov. 1 and 2. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Voodoo followers take part in ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirits of Baron Samdi and Gede during Day of the Dead in a cemtery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 1, 2015. Believers and devotees offer candles, alcohol and food to the dead. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A man in trance is seen during the ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirits of Baron Samdi and Gede on the Day of the Dead in the National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 1, 2015. Believers and devotees offer candles, alcohol and food to the dead. AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Fanir Roger, 51, smokes from a pipe during a Voodoo ritual that pays tribute to Baron Samdi and the Gede family of spirits during Day of the Dead celebrations at the National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Day of the Dead traditions coincide with All Saints Day and All Souls Day on Nov. 1 and 2. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Nuns and other residents gather at a cemetery during Day of the Dead celebrations in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. Day of the Dead traditions coincide with All Saints Day and All Souls Day on Nov. 1 and 2. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
A voodoo believer participates in a ritual that pays tribute to Baron Samdi and the Gede family of spirits during Day of the Dead celebrations at the National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Day of the Dead traditions coincide with All Saints Day and All Souls Day on Nov. 1 and 2. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
A woman devotee in the role of a spirit known as a Gede is seen during ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirits of Baron Samdi and Gede on the Day of the Dead in the National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 2, 2015. Voodoo believers and devotees offer candles, alcohol and food. The Day of the Dead is celebrated on the first two days of November during All Saints and All Souls Day. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Voodoo followers are reflecting in water as they take part in ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirits of Baron Samdi and Gede during Day of the Dead in a cemtery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 1, 2015. Believers and devotees offer candles, alcohol and food to the dead. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Voodoo faithful pay tribute to Baron Samdi and the Gede family of spirits during Day of the Dead celebrations at the National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. Day of the Dead traditions coincide with All Saints Day and All Souls Day on Nov. 1 and 2. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Voodoo followers perform a ritual to pay tribute to Baron Samdi and the Gede family of spirits during Day of the Dead celebrations at the National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. Day of the Dead traditions coincide with All Saints Day and All Souls Day on Nov. 1 and 2. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Voodoo followers take part in ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirits of Baron Samdi and Gede during Day of the Dead in a cemtery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 1, 2015. Believers and devotees offer candles, alcohol and food to the dead. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A man in pours rum over the cross representing Baron Samdi, believed to have healing powers, during a Voodoo ritual in tribute to Baron Samdi and the Gede family of spirits during Day of the Dead celebrations at the cemetery in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Day of the Dead traditions coincide with All Saints Day and All Souls Day on Nov. 1 and 2. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Voodoo followers take part in ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirits of Baron Samdi and Gede during Day of the Dead in a cemtery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 1, 2015. Believers and devotees offer candles, alcohol and food to the dead. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A Voodoo believer looks on from top of a grave during a Voodoo ritual that pays tribute to Baron Samdi and the Gede family of spirits during Day of the Dead celebrations at the National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Day of the Dead traditions coincide with All Saints Day and All Souls Day on Nov. 1 and 2. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
A woman devotee in the role of a spirit known as a Gede is seen during ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirits of Baron Samdi and Gede on the Day of the Dead in the National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 1, 2015. Believers and devotees offer candles, alcohol and food to the dead. AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A voodoo devotee in the role of a spirit known as a Gede is seen during ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirits of Baron Samdi and Gede on the Day of the Dead in the Cemetery of Cite Soleil, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 2, 2015. Revelers streamed into cemeteries across Haiti bearing beeswax candles, food offerings and bottles of rum infused with hot peppers to mark the country's annual Voodoo festival of the dead. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Voodoo followers take part in ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirits of Baron Samdi and Gede during Day of the Dead in a cemtery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 1, 2015. Believers and devotees offer candles, alcohol and food to the dead. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Fanir Roger, 51, circles around a cross representing Baron Samdi, believed to have healing powers, during a Voodoo ritual in tribute to Baron Samdi and the Gede family of spirits during Day of the Dead celebrations at the cemetery in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Day of the Dead traditions coincide with All Saints Day and All Souls Day on Nov. 1 and 2. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Voodoo followers take part in ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirits of Baron Samdi and Gede during Day of the Dead in a cemtery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 1, 2015. Believers and devotees offer candles, alcohol and food to the dead. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Voodoo followers take part in ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirits of Baron Samdi and Gede during Day of the Dead in a cemtery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 1, 2015. Believers and devotees offer candles, alcohol and food to the dead. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A voodoo devotee in a trance, in the role of a spirit known as a Gede takes a body from a grave in a cemtery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 1, 2015, while taking part in the ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirits of Baron Samdi and Gede during Day of the Dead. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Revelers streamed into cemeteries across Haiti on Sunday bearing beeswax candles, food offerings and bottles of rum infused with hot peppers to mark the country's annual Voodoo festival of the dead.

At Port-au-Prince's sprawling national cemetery, Voodoo priests and priestesses gathered around a blackened monument that is believed to be the oldest grave. There, they lit candles and stoked small fires as they evoked the spirit Baron Samedi, the guardian of the dead who is typically depicted with a dark top hat and a white skull face.

Some filled their mouths with fiery rum and sprayed it over the tomb's cross. As if in a trance, one young man wrapped in a paisley print sheet chewed up bits of a broken glass bottle, but onlookers who scrambled on burial vaults to get a better look didn't buy his performance. "Thief!" they shouted, as he spat out blood.

Minutes later, the crowd perched atop the tombs gave respect to a priestess with a purple scarf wrapped around her head as she danced in a spastic manner and made a keening lament.

Other Haitians gathered among the tombs to quietly remember dead relatives and ask spirits to grant favors or provide guidance. One man paid a soothsayer for advice on how to increase his chances at winning bets at Haitian outlets that play on New York State Lottery numbers.

Vendors who set up shop in the cemeteries did a brisk business selling pictures of Catholic saints alongside candles, rum, and rosary beads.

Voodoo, or Vodou as preferred by Haitians, evolved in the 17th century when colonists brought slaves to Haiti from West Africa. Slaves forced to practice Catholicism adopted saints to coincide with personalities in the African religions. Voodoo was sanctioned as an official religion in 2003 and it is practiced widely across the country of 10 million inhabitants.

This year' two-day celebration comes shortly before Haitian officials are expected to announce the top two finishers in a presidential first-round vote. Electoral authorities say they plan to release the preliminary results of the presidential vote on Tuesday, after the Voodoo festival concludes.

Voodoo priest Pierre Saint Ange cracked a rope whip on a crumbling tomb and told onlookers not to "fight with guns or burn tires" in coming days.

"We are asking for peace," he cried, standing near three women with their faces smeared in white paint.

A Photographer's 20-Year Exploration of Haitian Voudou

More from AOL.com:
US Episcopal Church installs first black leader
Prince Harry becomes emotional over sentimental gift from wounded US Marine
Rugby champion gives gold medal to young fan tackled by security

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners