Saint John The Baptist's Day is near, June 24th. For Afro-Dominicans of la La Vereda, Pueblo Arriba and Fundación de Peravia this is the main celebration of the year. The Confraternity of San John The Baptist, integrated by sisters and brothers of these three communities, dates back to Colonial times when run away enslaved Africans momentarily stopped at the hills of the province of Bani to have a break before heading up to the Sierra of Neyba and Bahoruco mountains. They used to play drums warning other runaway Africans about the distance of the enemy behind them. During leisure time they enjoyed playing, singing and dancing. With the passing of years, some African descendants established there, who gave origin to the actual villages of La Vereda and Fundacion de Peravia. A unique type of music and dance called SARANDUNGA was born together with a ceremonial tradition that mixes Catholic with West African religions, such as, Dominican Vodou, or Veintiuna Division. Nowadays, The Sarandunga is proudly celebrated as a communal fest of identity and resistance during three different days, and at three different communities. They commemorate not only the Saint, Saint John The Baptist, but also cultural heritage and freedom.
The following pictures of La Sarandunga were taken in La Vereda de Baní, as I witnessed and enjoyed in July, 2012.