Antiguans and Barbudans - Religion and Expressive Culture



Religious Beliefs. There have been two major waves of missionary activity in Antigua. The first occurred at the end of the eighteenth century, spurred by the arrival of Methodist and Moravian ministers on the island. The second wave of proselytizing began around World War I and gained momentum during the years of the Great Depression. Today the Anglican church has the largest following. Other large congregations include the Moravian, Methodist, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Pilgrim Holiness, and Pentecostal churches. Churches have historically played a very important role in the lives of Antiguans and Barbudans, and they remain very important today. Despite Barbuda's small size, more than half a dozen churches find congregations.

Some people also believe in a body of knowledge and set of rites called obeah. Deriving from Africa, obeah can be used for a variety of purposes including healing, causing sickness or other physical harm, determining who has been guilty of theft, "fixing" a court case, and ensuring that a loved one will remain faithful. It is illegal, but practitioners are mainly ignored by police.


Religious Practitioners. Ministers are accorded high prestige in the community. In addition to their roles as spiritual leaders, they provide psychological counseling and often mediate in conflicts among their parishioners.


Ceremonies. Antiguans and Barbudans celebrate with friends and relatives a child's birth, baptism, and marriage. Weddings and funerals are very important and elaborate events. Independence Day is celebrated on 1 November.


Arts. Cricket is the national sport. Antiguans and Barbudans also take great pride in their music. Calypso and steelbands are very popular, and there are annual competitions at Carnival at the end of July to determine the best songs, singers, and bands. During Carnival, troupes march in colorful costumes in the street and excited viewers "jump-up" enthusiastically to urge the revelers on. Visitors to Antigua can see an overview of the country's history at the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda in Saint Johns. Choral and theatrical groups perform occasionally.


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