By ANTHONY BOND
PUBLISHED: 10:32 EST, 14 June 2012 | UPDATED: 11:04 EST, 14 June 2012
These festival goers certainly can’t be accused of not putting the effort in.
With spectacularly colourful costumes, they are celebrating Benin’s mysterious voodoo religion at its annual festival in the city of Ouidah.
The coastal location is the west African country’s voodoo heartland and is thought to be the spiritual birthplace of the religion – which is known as vodun in Benin.
Flamboyant: These festival-goers are celebrating Benin’s mysterious Voodoo religion in the city of Ouidah. It is thought to be the spiritual birthplace of the religion
Colourful: At the same time each year this flamboyant festival takes place which involves a week of activity. Nigerian Yaruba Voodoo Spirits are pictured performing at the festival
At the same time each year this flamboyant festival takes place which involves a week of activity.
It culminates with people from across Benin as well as Togo and Nigeria descending on the city for the final day.
The festival has been taking place since 1997, with followers of the religion wanting to be blessed by Ouidah’s voodoo chief.
The beginning of celebrations is marked by the sacrificing of a goat, which is an offering to the spirits.
As the religion’s followers gather – along with tourists – devotees in animal skins chant and dance as locals drink Gin.
Voodoo dolls adorn tents and there is even a horse race on the beach.
Annual: The festival has been taking place since 1997 with followers wanting to be blessed by Ouidah’s voodoo chief
Bright: As the religion’s followers gather – along with tourists – devotees in animal skins chant and dance as locals drink Gin. ‘Egungun’ spirits are pictured
The festival features Nigerian ‘voodoo spirits’ walking the streets.
Each spirit represents the reincarnation of a dead member of the Nigerian ‘Nagu’ clan.
The festival also features ‘Egungun’ spirits from the Nigerian Yoruba Clan.
The Egungun are masqueraded dancers that represent the ancestral spirits of the Yoruba – a Nigerian ethnic group which are believed to visit earth to possess and give guidance to the living.
This picture on the left shows an ‘Egungun’ spirit while on the right is a Nigerian ‘Voodoo Spirit’ walking the streets
Shrouded in mystery and often misunderstood, voodoo was acknowledged as an official religion in Benin in 1989.
It is increasing in popularity with around 17 per cent of the population now following it.
The festival takes place every year in January.