Death is a step along the road we call life. Unlike western traditions that see death as the final act, Vodou sees death simply as a transition into another place Anba Dlo is a vodou term, meaning ’below the water’ in Haitian Creole.
The soul in Vodou is seen as having four parts. The Anba Dlo takes care of the astral soul, the immortal part of each of us. When a loved one dies, it is traditional to perform this rite, to place the spirit of that person into the waters, meaning to rest them for a year and a day. Similar to the Egyptian idea of the soul taking crossing through the underworld in Ra’s boat, Anba Dlo assumes the role of the Sun boat, and moves the deceased soul through the waters of of rest, so that in a year’s time, the soul can be warmed up and returned to the family abode, where it will be fetted, served and remembered.
Culturally, an Anba Dlo should be done within 3 days of the death. However, we are not in Haiti and we do not have to deal with tropical heat hastening the corp’s decay. Here in the USA, an Anba Dlo can take place within 3, 6 or 9 months of the death. A very moving service, the act of placing ones family member into the Waters of Return is very cathartic and cleansing. The Anba Dlo can be performed anywhere the family wishes to gather. We recently performed this service seaside in California for someone wishing to be buried at sea.
For details on the Anba Dlo, please contact Mambo Vye Zo. She will answer all your questions regarding this beautiful and moving ceremony.