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The term hounsi (also spelled ounsi) has its origin in the Fon language of Dahomey, where it means that one has become the spouse of a spirit (Vodun or Lwa in Haiti). In accepting the call of the Vodun or Lwa to become a hounsi, one becomes accepted as a member of a oumfò (temple) with all the religious and communal responsibilities that such a position requires, but, more important, one becomes a serviteur (servant) of the divinity.

It is the Lwa who ultimately call the individual to become their wife or husband. The primary function of the hounsi is to assist the mambo (priestess) and oungan (priest). Hounsi are in fact indispensable to the overall success of the oumfò. They comprise the liturgical hierarchy that ...

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