Water and Culture
by Pamela Parsa, Mbomo, Gabon
Water is considered a purifying element. I have seen it used during healing and circumcision ceremonies. In a healing ceremony that I witnessed recently, a very sick woman was sprinkled with water (flung from a swatch of raffia strips). Each of the participants in the ceremony ate iboga (the sacred wood) and took turns dancing around three fires. Then they sprinkled the woman with more water.
The circumcision ceremony is actually a very long process,
taking two months to fulfill all the rites. The night
before the circumcision takes place, the [adolescent] boys are ritually
cleaned at a river and then painted and clothed for the
ceremony. After the circumcision, the boys are taken to
a secluded area in the woods. There, they bathe three
times a day, for as long as it takes to heal the wound.