BURU IN JAMAICA
During the period of slavery in Jamaica, Christmastime was usually the only opportunity that the slaves had to have any type of celebrations. In light of this, Christmas was characterized by many activities where the slaves feasted, sang, danced and just enjoyed themselves. One of the main activities that were observed at this time was masquerading. This occurred in two forms, Jonkunnu, with which most people are familiar, and Buru. Buru is an African-derived masquerade celebration that was originally used as a fund-raising activity for slaves who wanted money to buy food and other items for their Christmas feast. Performers formed a procession which paraded in the streets, entertaining spectators. The celebrations usually began on Christmas Eve and continued until New Year's Day. After the abolition of slavery, there were a few changes in the practice; however, the main change that occurred was in the purpose of the celebration which shifted from being mainly for fund-raising but for entertaining and socializing instead. The main characters in Buru include Horse-Head, Donkey and Madder Lundy. However, over time, other characters were introduced such as Cow-Head and Doctor. These characters were all generally played by men as it was considered vulgar for women to lift their skirts the way in which the dance movements required. Masks were used as part of the costumes in order to hide the identity of the wearer. This was necessary as often times, the Buru characters poked fun at individuals or events in the society through song, so the activity served as a sort of social commentary. The Buru characters are always accompanied by musicians. There are at least three drummers and other musicians who use scrapers, rattles and other percussion instruments. The drums used are the funded, the repeater and the bass, the same drums that are now used by the Nyahbinghi Rastafarians. Some researchers even argue that present-day Nyahbinghi music is a fusion of...
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