Lola- A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn

Karen McCarthy Brown, the great American writer is considered to be an expert of those theological ideas, which were somewhat different from the conventional practices. Haitian Vodous are the group of people who carry on highly credulous beliefs. A lot of books have been in print about these sections.

However a bulk of them is a combine of balony, adornment and cants. Karen McCarthy Brown’s book ‘Mama Lola-A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn’s a distinctive one in the sense that it expresses apprehension towards Haitian Vodou, at the same time severely mitigates the images given in other fictional pieces.

Hitherto it stresses the general idea of religious views of the pragmatic believers in their regular life. In the book, Brown states how she happened to be transformed into the Vodou religion by her everyday meeting with Marie Therese Alourdes Macena Margaux Kowalski, the Mama Lola of the heading. After a short time the author seemed to convolute the fundamental values of the lessons and started the commencement rites under the direction of Mama Lola. This book spotlights on dual points.

On the single hand, it is a clean religious ambiance of Mama Lola’s day today Voodou practices. The other side pictures the vivacious character of the religion and the various experiences which a Haitian family had to face in their relocation to Brooklyn and the difficulties while trying to keep in tact their traditional principles.

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 At the time of the writer’s union with Mama Lola, the former had some intolerant ideas about the religious doings of Haitian Vodou. Slowly she obtained a good contact with Mama Lola and zealously took part in some of the rituals. Brown acquires laudable, enlightening and affluent supernatural stories not only of antique Haiti but also of present America by way of the reverent narration of Mama Lola despite of hardship. A logical, evocative and delicate way of arrangement is maintained throughout the book.

Brown, through this book, thoroughly searches the important role of women in spiritual activities in the family in a distorted society. The readers are left to assess her message and exchanging of ideas with Mama Lola in the course of her stay with the latter.

By putting into view the life of Mama Lola, McCarthy shows us the seriousness of a Haitian lady’s anguish. Still, these women, says Brown, have some power on the Vodou.. In the story, it has been stated that Mama Lola is forced to give up a vocation of singing under the persistence of her husband, thereupon turning to become a morally wrong lady by profession for removing scarcity.

Lourdes’ has an uncompromising reaction to this. In this circumstance, Brown opines that there is the connection of women with money matters and voodoo.  It may be in these backgrounds that these frantic women folk seek the irritating spirits. Karen Brown carefully envisages an attractive and empathetic description of the Haitian Vodou.

Though presented in a studious manner, the book has the style of a gorgeous novel.’ Mama Lola’ can be regarded as a comparative study of the Haitian religion, as practiced by the Vodou in antique times as well as in the present world, especially in the New York City. I t is a actuality that Brown herself has emerged as a Vodou, that too on the basis of long days of examination. At the same time she opens up a world of religious organization, for the perspective readers(Corbett 1991).

The writer’s visual rendering of the Haitian group is enthrallingly pictured by way of her rapport with Mama Lola which, in turn is the central theme of the book. This book is a requisite for those individuals who tranquil off-putting conservative views of Vodou. This piece scarcely bestows upon the illuminating of the voodoo religion, on the differing, it is a study of how the Vodou methodically take care of their religion. Mama Lola, better known as Alourdes, earns a living by conducting Haitian Vodou curative work in her Brooklyn home.

In 1978, Brown, professor of sociology and the anthropology of religion at Drew University in New Jersey, met Alourdes while doing an ethnographic survey of the local Haitian settler society. Intrigued by the priestess and by the misunderstood, oft-maligned practices of Vodou and the religion’s faithful but enigmatic followers, Brown gradually wins Alourdes’s companionship and passionately participated in ceremonies such as birthday parties for imperative spirits (lwa).

The lwa, which are said to possess celebrants during rituals and to communicate messages through dreams, are as likely to chastise as to reward believers. In this commendable, illuminating study, replete with supernatural tales of past and present in Haiti and America, Alourdes reveals lasting faith and respect for her religion despite adversity (Glazier, M. 1991)

It is often said about this book that until its publication, the treatments of Haitian voodoo fell in two categories.

 There are lots of books that are written on Haitian Vodou, but greater part of them are measured as real baloney, overstated and misinformed. The two categories of the voodoo culture portray the beliefs and practices in literalist detail.

Browns book is only one of its kinds in experience. It is compassionate towards the voodoo. It fundamentally thinks about the literalist elucidation of voodoo and concentrates more on the connotation of religion in the everyday lives of the truthful. By reading the book, one might think or regard voodoo as a mythical system which guides ones life. The truthful of browns voodoo are believers in the literalist wisdom. Brown had convoluted the limits of her learning when she changed to the voodoo religion and undergoes beginning ceremonies under the supervision of Mama Lola. Brown’s focus is two fold. One is more charming than the other. The mass of the book is an examination of the connotation of voodoo in the everyday lives of Mama Lola’s relatives. This family is offered as a typical family of the truthful. The second focal point is on the settler experience of the Haitian family living in Brooklyn.

The inner focus of Brown’s book is her explanation of the role of voodoo in the every day lives of the prolific. This view is wholly reliable. With a less literalist explanation which brown seems to highlight at each turn.

Perhaps the best example to this is her wedding to the spirit. She takes the pronouncement to marry the spirit during very hard times in her life. But the spirit ignores her, this creates confusion to Brown. She takes matters in her own hands. This event clearly portray that Brown is little concerned in the literal story. Rather the signs provide her with the enhance she needed in her life to get well from her custom depression.

Brown takes us inside the inside world of the Haiti voodoo. This is an intimate look of the personal association of the voodoo family and its head as well as the spirits. This book is not a foreign image of the voodoo but depicts the animated life directing energy of Mama Lola and her kin (Corbett 1991).

Reference:

Corbett, B. November 1991. MAMA LOLA: A VODOU PRIESTESS IN BROOKLYN. Available:

     http://www.webster.edu/~corbetre/haiti/bookreviews/brown-lola.htm. . Accessed on

     September 23, 2008

Glazier, M . 1991. Anthropology of Consciousness. Vol. 2, No. 3-4, pp. 30-31. Available:

     http://www.anthrosource.net/doi/abs/10.1525/ac.1991.2.3-4.30. Accessed on September 23,

     2008

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