Burying Vaval, Dominica
A report from News Americas Now.
Everyone knows the Caribbean has beautiful beaches and pristine waters, lots of sunshine and great food and rum. But in many islands, there are also weird events and festivals that offer another type of attraction. The Caribbean Tourism Organization recently released its Year of Adventure Content Guide, which included some of the unique events for 2017. Here are our top five picks.
On Ash Wednesday, a day after the end of Carnival, residents in Dominica’s Dublanc or Kalinago/Carib Territory hold a solemn funeral service for Vaval or the spirit of the Carnival. A real coffin is carried by persons holding flaming torches and everyone in the village is dressed in white. As darkness sets, they hold flaming torches and begin dancing, singing and shouting as a coffin is held aloft by six men. They sing and dance and cry to the burial site where the coffin is burnt. See more on the eerie festival here.
This May 6th, you can experience Batabano live in the Cayman Islands. The event is the Cayman Islands’ version of carnival and is held after Easter. The carnival festivities actually kick off in January with the Mas Band Presentation. Then on April 22nd, it’s time for J’Ouvert. The Pan Beat competition takes places on Paril 29th and the actual Batabano parade winds around the center of the capital Georgetown, and ends on Harbor drive with entertainment covering six genres of music and the annual food festival. For more information see here.
In Petite Martinique and Carriacou, which make up the Tri-Island State of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, you may be lucky to catch the traditional wedding ceremony featuring cake dancing and flag dancing. It features one member from the bride’s side of the family and one from the groom’s side dancing with a cake in their hands, sometimes with the community through the streets. The ritual is unique to Petite Martinique and Carriacou weddings. Petite Martinique is only accessible by boat. You can also take the Osprey High-Speed Catamaran Service, which makes daily trips from Grenada. The journey to Carriacou is a short fifteen minutes ride by air or 90 minutes by sea. St. Vincent Grenadines Air (SVG Air) operates daily flights between Grenada’s Maurice Bishop International Airport and Carriacou’s Lauriston Airport. For visitors already in Grenada the Osprey Ferry operates daily round-trip service between Grenada and Carriacou as well.
Goat & Crab Race Festival
In Tobago on Easter Monday and Tuesday, you can catch the Buccoo Goat and Crab Race. The event is actually in its 92nd year. The jockeys the jockeys are young men who run along with the goats, urging them forward to the finish line. In the crab race, crabs are attached to string held by the jockeys and urged forward with thin bamboo rods. Some races involve a straight course. In others, a large circle is drawn around jockeys and their race crabs. First crab out wins with their owner pocketing the prize and the losing crabs getting curried down for pride of place on a bed of dumplings.
See more here
Every August in the British Virgin Islands, you can catch donkey races at the Carrot Bay Cultural Fiesta. The festival commemorates the 1834 Emancipation Act, which abolished slavery and celebrates the different cultures of the Islands with a county fair sort of atmosphere, with plenty of food and drink and the ever popular, donkey race.