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Garifuna Society Celebrations And Ceremonials

Updated: Dec 18, 2021


Garifuna Capsule No 70: (revised 30 March 2014)

There is a variety of artistic and cultural expressions within Garifuna society but the most popular ones are the festive dances, town’s celebrations, and ceremonials. Festive dances are observed on special cases celebrating the real Garifuna life. Town’s celebrations are observed during festivals dedicated to the patr...on saint of each community. Ceremonial dances take place during special events dedicated to the ancestors. Festive dances have this joyful character such as: Paranda, Purisilama, Hüngühüngü, Punta, Wanaragua, Gunchei, Satisi, and Chunba.


This is a protest dance by excellence and it is well-known as the Garifuna gathering dance. All of the songs that are written using the paranda rhythm are of masculine inspiration. The songs tell stories that satirize anguish, distress, anxiety, and happiness. These rhythm or dances are for all occasions and they can be used to serenade and entertain any informal event.


This rhythm is well-known also as Burusulama o Koreopatia. It is the pantomime, comedy, or farce dance, where in a festive scene, men are courting women. All the men dispute all the women that are present, but one of the members is singled out by both the men and the women. This is exclusive dance for the men where some of the men dress up as men and some in women’s clothes.


This is also known as Fedu, which is the feminine dance by excellence and very popularly celebrated during the Christmas festivities. All of the melodies that enhance this dance are uniquely of feminine inspiration. These songs are loaded with stories telling of anguish, distress, and happiness. It is danced by women of any age and the only masculine element present during the dance is made up of the banner bearer and the drummers.


This is also known as Bángidi, Pakün or Lándânu; it is a Garifuna people’s funeral dance.It symbolizes family unity not only among the living but also among those who live in the spiritual world. Punta is danced during wakes and in other ceremonies having to do with the passing of someone. Its rhythm is engaging and it can be danced in couples. The lyrics are generally of feminine inspiration.


This is known as the war dance of the Garifuna people. It emerged during the colonial days and it symbolizes the struggle against the European man. It ridicules the expansionist pretentions of man to colonize abroad at the expense of Garinagu. Wanaragua’ s attire symbolizes the traditional European colonial clothing, using masks depicting Caucasian features as well as vividly colored crowns worn on their heads with which they depict the appearance of kings in Europe’s Colonial era. Wanaragua is also known in Honduras as Masked Dance “Baile de Máscaros”.


Gunchei is also known as Ina we, and it is the revolutionary dance of Garifuna society. It commemorates the advent of the French Revolution: a new system of liberation for those people who were oppressed. In its beginnings, Gunchei was known as, by excellence, as the Garifuna aristocracy dance.


This is an exclusive dance for the elderly usually older than 40 years of age. Satisi is smooth and cadenced and it is rich in a variety of rhythms. It is characterized by its instrumental melodies. This is a dance that is in danger of extinction due to the lack of young musicians who could embrace its qualities in tones and because Satisi is difficult to register in musical notes due to its instrumental nature.


This is the dance of ability and liberation of sluggish energy. It is exclusive danced by males. It is danced in an individual form where the level of ability and skill in order to imitate the actions of the people around him. It simulates excellence, virility, superiority to the genius who surrounds him. Salvador Suazo states, “I reminisce about those celebrations back in my days in the Garifuna communities which have been slowly disappearing, it looks like those days will never be back.”

This is a list of legendary celebrations observed in the calendar during Christmas (December):

During the entire month of December, children’s games: Spin top, marbles, and putapaníñe

Day 12: During the morning time Indiuhaní - Indio Dance Day.

During the afternoon The Celebration of Indio Bárbaro - Warrau Indians

During the night time Lagumeserun Asayahani – Christmas Play (Pastorals)

Day 24: During the afternoon, the arrival of Wárini

During the night time Asayahaní – Christmas Play (Pastorals) and Misagáyu – Midnight Mass (La Misa del Gallo followed by Fedu Dance (Hüngühüngü)

Day 25: All day Wanaragua dance going from house to house

All day Purisilama Day (Koreopatía)

Day 27: All day Piamanadi Dance (Charikanari)

Day 28: All day Satîsi Dance

Day 29: During the afternoon Gunchéi Dance

Day 30: During the afternoon Sanbái Dance and Chunba Dance

Day 31: During the evening Asayahani- Christmas Play ( Pastorals) followed by Fedu Hüngühüngü Dance

In January

Day 1: During the morning Abusuraguagülei Day – Garifuna Salutation Day

During the entire day also Wanaragua Dance

Day 6: During the morning Esederehaní Day – Three Kings’ Day

During the afternoon Asayahaní – Closing of the Christmas Play (Closing of Pastorals)

Installation of Matahánburi

Day 7 through the 14: During the afternoon Hesederehan Matahanburi – Looking for Gratifications

Day 15: During the afternoon Closing of the Matahánburi – The return of Wárini marking the end of Christmas festivities

(All Rights Reserved).20.11.2012.

This article was written by Honduran Professor Salvador Suazo. It was translated from Spanish into English by Rony Figueroa on March 26, 2014. This material was translated for the purpose of educating only. It is strictly forbidden to use and reproduce this material with the intent of financial gain.

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