The Wyckoff House Museum is hosting the first ever Minokan festival this weekend in celebration of the Haitian vodou tradition of Lakou Souvenance on Sept. 8. The event — organized in partnership with the center and Fanmi Asoto, a local Haitian cultural organization and band — is bringing the cultural heritage of the tradition to the museum for an informative gathering to enlighten guests of the oft misunderstood practice, said one of the organizers.
“People will learn a lot about our culture, our drums, and learn that vodou is not evil — it’s how you live your live life, waking up in the morning, respecting your life, and the spirits,” said vodou priestess Sirene Dantor.
The festival aims to shed light on vodou and showcase its positive aspects because often times word vodou, or voodoo, carries a negative connotation that leads to a lot misconceptions about the spiritual practice, said Dantor.
For four hours, guests will be introduced to the basics of the historic Lakou Souvenance ritual with music, dance, handmade jewelry making, food, and hands-on activities including a drum and art workshop.
Dantor said people of all cultures and backgrounds will find the festival to be an enjoyable learning experience, because they are getting a preview of a historic practice that pre-dates Haiti’s independence.
“Lakou Souvenance was the sight of Africans from all over and different beliefs coming together for freedom,” said Dantor. “In New York City, you’ll find people of every nationality, and if people want to learn about a culture, they’ll have to see it themselves.”
The museum is the perfect location for this festival because Dantor and the center share similar ideas, said the Museum director.
“We are particularly interested because we’ve partnered with Sirene all summer, and she does a lot of work with medicine and work with the ground that we are doing as well,” said Melissa Branfman. “We are working with many traditions like growing a lot of plants that she works with, that are popular and which people want to know more about. So we’re excited to continue this partnership and amplify that.”
“Festival Minokan” at Wyckoff House Museum [5816 Clarendon Rd. at Ralph Avenue in East Flatbush, (718) 629-5400, www.wycko