A fet is a celebration held in honour of one or more lwa. At Hounfo Racine Deesse Dereyale, we usually host at least one fet annually. Our fet are open to the public to attend, and anyone who is curious about Vodou and wants to experience our songs, our prayers, our dance, and our spirits is more than welcome.
We host fet at the Hounfo itself, in Palmerston North, New Zealand. It is 100% free to attend our ceremonies, and always will be* The ceremonies can last a long time, but we do provide a meal and drinks for our guests. If you let us know in advance, we can cater to any allergies or dietary needs. We sometimes have accommodation available for those who have travelled a long way and need to stay overnight. This needs to be arranged with us in advance, and we will charge you a small fee to cover utility expenses and your breakfast. We often get asked if there is space for camping at the Hounfo, and the answer is no. We do have floorspace and air mattresses if all the beds are full. If we haven’t spoken in advance with you about accommodation, you are responsible for finding your own place to stay and for finding transport to and from the Hounfo.
There is a dresscode for fet which is important to adhere to. White clothing is required, and it must be both modest and gender appropriate. Vodou is a modest religion, so shirts must cover the shoulders and pants and skirts must be at least calf length. Men must wear trousers, and women must wear skirts. T-shirts are fine, but must not contain any offensive slogans or imagery. Additionally, women must have their heads wrapped for the ceremony. We always have a stack of clean fabric of the appropriate colour and size, and are happy to provide and tie headwraps. We can sometimes help with white clothing if given enough advance notice, but this is not guaranteed.
We ask that our guests arrive clean and well groomed, and also ask that you avoid smoking prior to the ceremony. This is because some spirits are offended by strong smells and actively dislike the scent of cigarette smoke. For this reason we also ask that our guests refrain from wearing strongly scented perfumes or body sprays. (A small amount of something subtle is fine.)
Kiwi Mojo are not responsible for anything the lwa say or do at any of the events that we host, as the lwa are their own beings who are more powerful and see further than we do. We have never hosted a fet where the lwa have not come down to enjoy the party. They often appear to give blessings, hand out food and drink, offer advice, provide healing, and to just party.
* Although fet are free to attend, as they are a part of our service to the community, they cost a great deal in terms of time and money to host. In Haiti, it is considered polite to discretely pass an unmarked envelope containing a donation towards these costs to a representative of the house. This is not required, and there is no set amount required, and under no circumstances should anyone feel pressured to give more than they can afford. The donations aren’t opened in front of the guests, and there is no stigma attached to making a small donation or no donation at all. Hounfo Racine Deesse Dereyale gratefully accepts any donations our guests choose to make, but we do not expect our guests to be aware of or adhere to this custom.
We also recommend our guests bring some cash in the form of small denomination banknotes. In New Zealand, this would be the $5 note. This is because some spirits (such as Ghede or Kouzen) like to ask for money. In return, they bestow blessings upon those who give them cash. In this instance, the money always belongs to the spirits. It goes into a special pot or is pinned to a statue on the altar, and is used to purchase food, drink, and items especially requested by those spirits. It is never taken or used by members of the Hounfo, and is the property of the spirits to do what they choose with that money. Sometimes they loan it or give it to those in need, sometimes they keep it for themselves, but it is always up to the spirit in question what they choose to do with their money. Again, it is not compulsory to give money to the spirits when they ask, but be aware that this is something which could happen.