Guadeloupe Carnival: skin groups have taken their “ben démaré”

From Sunday January 5 until February 26 (Ash Wednesday), carnival groups will be regularly on the streets in Guadeloupe. This New Year’s Wednesday, the “skin groups” took their traditional “ben démaré” in the sea.

Carnaval Ben démaré 2020-4A

Like every year, the tradition was respected, on this January 1st of the year 2020. In order to mark their opening of the carnival season in Guadeloupe, some skin groups (gwoup a po, in Creole) like Nasyon a Nèg Mawon, Klé la, Mas Ka Klé or Moun Ki Moun, crossed the streets of the cities of Les Abymes and Pointe-à-Pitre to go to Le Gosier and take their “ben démaré” (untied bath) in the sea. This New Year’s Day parade was made to the sound of conches, “chacha” and traditional drums (the famous drum covered with a goat skin hence the name of the groups) while dancing when they could but especially walking at a brisk pace. Even if the parade started around 8:00 am, when the sun was starting to rise, the groups made several stops to allow the participants in the carnival parade, often dressed in white, to stand the heat. Throughout the route, especially at the Blanchard roundabout, carnival lovers waited patiently for the groups to share the party atmosphere or accompany them on foot or by car to the beach.

The “ben démaré” aims to get rid of all the “bad things” of the past year and start the new year by being purified so that the carnival goes well… If certain groups present offerings to the sea (usually fruits, vegetables and flowers), other groups do not practice any ritual and are content to take a sea bath…