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Oshun of Bliss
African-American Krewe Rolls First on St. Charles
While Zulu and their golden coconuts tend to steal the spotlight as the last and oldest African-American parade to round out the Carnival season, no one can forget about the first float out of the gate. For more than 15 years, the all African-American Krewe of Oshun has rolled down the Uptown streets, kicking off the carnival season with their mix of vibrant floats and African inspired themes.
“Oshun is the goddess of fountains, love and wealth for the African people of Brazil, Haiti and Cuba,” said Ann Clark, captain of the Krewe of Oshun.
Oshun takes many forms depending on the different religions, such as West African Yoruba, Brazilian Ketu or Cuban Santeria, but despite cross-cultural differences, she maintains all the positives of a beneficent goddess in each representation.
“The Oshun symbol is the peacock,” said Clark. Like Oshun, and the parade itself, the peacock feathers represent an exotic beauty. The peacock makes a specifically strong appearance in Cuban polytheistic religion and will make an even stronger appearance in the Mardi Gras loot.
“We have the Oshun medallion beads. This year we’re going to do beautiful peacock bracelets, Saints hand clappers, Saints cowbell, Saints beads, and Oshun lighted peacocks,” said Clark, only naming a few favorites.
When the Krewe first came together in 1996, they felt the goddess best reflected the ideals and emotions of the Krewe. As a goddess who projects beauty and love both on the surface and within, the Krewe couldn’t have taken on a more fitting choice. Each year, the parade has been a hit, delighting families and Mardi Gras goers with colorful themes and throws.
“The theme [this year] is the children of our future and it really has to do with the professions that the children can aspire to,” said Clark.
A procession of 18 floats and seven vans will represent a range of vocations from education careers to sports careers to music career and more. The floats aim to inspire young people in the often unsettling search for a stable job, as well as excite smaller children about future prospects.
“This year we are going to have the Rebirth Brass Band. They won a Grammy. We are also going to have the New Orleans Saints super fans,” said Clark.
With all that who dat spirit up in the air, the parade has to represent. Clark also mentions a van contest, where drivers compete for the best look, but they’ll have to work hard to stand out against the bevy of floats.
In the end though, we know what Mardi Gras is really about: monarchy. And this parade proudly hails to the lovely King and Queen, or rather Shango and Oshun, Taisha Williams-Payne and Damon Payne Sr.
Check out the Krewe of Oshun at 6 pm on Friday, January 25.
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