High Priestess Sacrifices Goat, Chicken, Rooster in Benin

Virgile Ahissou, AP, Jan. 11, 2006

OUIDAH, Benin—Thousands gathered on a beach Tuesday to celebrate Benin’s once-banned voodoo, slaughtering animals and welcoming revelers from Brazil and the United States, including descendants of slaves who took the religion to the Americas centuries ago.

At a ceremony Tuesday, voodoo high priestess Nagbo Hounon Gbeffa sacrificed a goat, a rooster and a chicken as divine offerings.

“I’m very moved,” said Faith McDouglas, a 37-year-old nurse from Omaha, Neb., and a descendant of slaves.

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But the religion, practiced by an estimated 60 percent of Benin’s 7 million people, was impossible to suppress, and the government inaugurated National Voodoo Day in 1996, giving the religion an official place here alongside Christianity and Islam.

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