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.
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.