The Junkanoo and dancing to celebrate the life of the dead

Finally dancing with my ancestors

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My ancestry hails from the Bahamas.  Growing up there were Junkanoos to celebrate happiness and console during sadness.  I watched my family and friends dance with joy and I never danced.  I think it was not just the passing of a single soul — it was an accumulated sadness of memories of dozen of love ones that transitioned from the physical to the spiritual.

There are many stories told about the origin of the Junkanoo; the one told by an elder was the processional would be through the streets carrying the body to the home.  When at the home there would be weeping, storytelling, dancing, and communing on the life of the departed.  The celebration would end and the living would move on to the somber job of ceremonial burial.

Finally, I danced at the Junkanoo.  It wasn’t the vibrant colors of the traditional costumes nor the dancing of the performers nor the dancing of family and friends.  It was my own soul heralding it’s time to be grateful for the measured time we have here and now.  It was time to share the joy of transition to the end of the life cycle.  Time to jump.  Time to move.  Time to embrace the journey of life that has a beginning, a purpose, and closure for all.

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