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Scene from a Dugu in Dangriga

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Scene from a Dugu in Dangriga
The Dugu Ritual of the Garinagu of Belize: Reinforcing Values of Society through Music and Spirit Possession. Where boats are sent out to the Cayes to catch fish and return.

The Dugu is a diverse and deeply religious ceremony in which a Buyei (high priest) leads a generation into contact with deceased relatives.

The ancestral rites come in three parts: The Amuyadahani (Bathing the Spirit of the Dead); the Chugu (Feeding of the Dead), and the Dugu (the actual Feasting of the Dead).

These religious activities bring together relatives from Honduras, Guatemala, even from as far away as the U.S.A. The Buyei summons the presence of three drummers, a group of Afuna-hountiuya (dressed in red cultural outfit), a number of Gayusa (singers) and fishermen to gather seafood (Adugahatinya).

The purpose of having a Dugu is to appeal to ancestors for help in resolving some problem in the designated family. The Ancestral Spirit or Gubida penetrates the congregation and communicates with his people during an Owehani (comparable to Pentecost).

The major highlight of the Dugu is a series of dancing which comes in four parts: Abeimahani, Amalihani, Awangulahani, and Hugulendu.

The entire Dugu ceremony usually lasts a few days in addition to several weeks of tedious preparatory work. Forty eight hours of continuous drumming and dancing in the temple (Dabuyaba) creates the mood for dialogue with the Spirits which satisfies the purpose of the Dugu.

Photograph by Tony Rath              

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