What would be my honest personal feedback of revivalism in Jamaica? It's appealing and thrilling! but it does get a bit scary! Scroll down to learn why.
According to the JIS, 'Revivalism began in Jamaica between 1860 and 1861 as a part of a religious movement called the Great Revival.
It is a combination of elements from African pagan beliefs and Christianity and has several forms, the two major forms being Revival Zion and Pocomania.
The Revival ritual involves singing, drumming, dancing, hand-clapping, foot-stomping, and groaning along with the use of prayers to invite possession.
It also includes music and songs from orthodox religion'.
There were two revival churches in my district. They had their official names but we referred to them as 'Mass Standford church' and 'Madda church' respectively, both representative of the name of the respective leader in the church.
'Mass Stanford' was closest to my home and we relish the weekends to go there.
There was always some activity around the church. Neither me (a boy then) nor any of my family members were members of that faith but as children we loved the experience - although sometimes chilling!
I loved the drums. There were two of them- the big bass drum and the 'little drum' (kettle drum). I admired 'Zekel'(Eziekiel), a son of the leader, who played the 'little drum' with dexterity and awe!
He was funny, many times played the drums in reggae beats when church is not in session to entertain us (the kids)- Of course, he could not let any of the older members realize that!
The religious service are characterized by bible reading, the beating of African drums and cymbals (although more modern instruments are been used today), dancing, spirit possession, and the singing of hymns and choruses.
The movements were quite entertaining. The spinning, rotating and whirling are appealing. The entire service is magnetic though-after a while you are virtually pulled into it.
After all, the belief is highly spiritual and mystic! Persons who are 'filled' often roll
on the floor and many times appears to fall in a trance.
A key aspect of the faith is the warnings and predictions. My first experience at such a service was bloodcurdling!
Towards the end of each quarter in the year, revivalists journey to Watt Town in St. Ann (Ocho Rios area of Jamaica). This is the conference center or headquarters (if you wish) of the movement. There, all the elements of revivalism in Jamaica are displayed!
I noticed then (and now) though that it is mainly the older folks who are usually involved in the revival church. Could this mean that revivalism in JA may be dying?
Honestly, I can't say yeah or nay as I am not as close to the action as I was- when living back in my old district. I can say though that most of the churches are still concentrated in deep rural areas and those are quite steamy.
For a great background into the history of revivalism in Jamaica, including the activities involved, a few more pictures and even some of their songs, take a look here then come back.
Thanks to brother Carl and my friend Holly Allen, here are some additional pictures from a revivalist service in Jamaica.
Remember my punch phrase? Yup...
"Jamaica is not only about the scintillating beaches and the alluring reggae music, there are lots more" Revivalism is yet another intriguing aspect of our unique and adorable country.