Dominica: The Commonwealth of Dominica announced the celebration of the annual Ole Mas festival, which will take place at Pointe Michel starting around 4:00 am on Saturday, 13 January 2024. The starting point will be the Poree Playing Field.
The full name of the festival is known to be Chou Poul Old Mass, which is pronounced as Shoe Pool in the local language.
The meaning of the term Chou Poul Old Mass is said Chicken Foot Old Mass.
The festival is celebrated by many around the Caribbean region on a very grand occasion.
The festival holds a very diverse culture in itself in which an individual can see the deep-rooted culture of Dominica and its history in combination with African and European influences.
It is believed that the festival originated from rituals of the pre-colonial period and celebrations with more elements that were added at the time of the French colonial period.
The festival is celebrated annually on the Monday before ash Wednesday while marking the start of Lent.
Traditionally, the festival was celebrated in the village of Roseau only. Still, with time, it is believed the celebrations might have extended to other areas also in recent years due to the popularity and spirit of the festival.
The main things that are considered as the speciality of the festival are its appearance and how it is celebrated.
In this festival many locals and tourists take part to celebrate the great day together. In this, participants dress in colourful attires.
The costumes are often homemade, but with time, tourists can also buy them from the market. The costume contains feathers, masks, and elaborate adornments.
Traditional characters like Jumbies, which are tall stilt walkers, Jab Jab, which are devils in black and white, and Mass Rosie, which are characters dressed as priests, are commonly seen in this festival.
The music and dance are the primary attractions of the festival, where singing, dancing and drumming are seen in the celebration, with traditional music such as Bele and Jing Ping playing a big role.
Food and Drink are also available, like callaloo soup, fungee and fish, and Dominican bakes are local dishes that are often served.
The festival celebrates community, resilience, and cultural heritage. It is a time for locals and visitors to come together, have fun, and express themselves through costume and dance.
The name Chou Poul likely refers to the chicken foot dance, a traditional step performed during the celebrations.
The festival is known for its wild and uninhibited atmosphere, reflecting the Creole spirit of Dominica.
In recent years, there have been efforts to revive and promote the Chou Poul Old Mass as a unique cultural event for Dominica.