By Dutchess, 2013
The Winti religion has four pantheons: earth, water, air and forest (bush – or ‘fire’). The Gran Gado – God of all Gods – is called Anana Keduaman Keduampon, known only to the Winti.
Aisa Gado is the head of the Winti. Mama Aisa is the head of every pantheon, not just the Earth Pantheon. She is also known as Wanaisa, Mama Aisa, Mama Fu Doti (Mother Earth).
Aisa Gado emanates on all levels, at the highest level She is able to consult with Anana, at the lowest level She is a local Earth-bound Winti. Most will state that wan Aisa is a gorong Winti (Earth Goddess) or wenu Aisa is a watra Winti (Water Goddess), but unless one has a specific reason to do so, one is limiting Her powers. Aisa Gado is very powerful and commands respect.
Even so, there are several types of Aisa Winti, for example the family Aisa Winti (Bere Aisa) who travelled with the ancestors from Africa as Her children were put in captivity overseas, or Aisa Winti related to a specific location. The latter could originate in Suriname – before the slave trade – as well. The head of all the Bere Aisa is Kondre (country) Aisa. Kondre Aisa is married to Papa Loko (also Tata Loko). Loko is said to take the form of a serpent that dwells in the Loko tree. One should not worship Aisa without worshipping Loko as well.
Aisa frequently manifests Herself in dreams. She will usually appear as a Creole woman in traditional attire in the colors of Papa Loko, the snake. The Loko snake, as well as all other snakes, belong to the Earth pantheon. The snakes are traditionally taken as emanations of the Earth gods presiding over the Earth realm.
More on Winti
The Winti tradition has been cultivated by enslaved peoples from West Africa who were shipped to America. The Surinamese and Antillean descendants maintained and continued the traditions, despite the suppression by the Jewish and ‘ Christian’ enslavers who did not permit African religion as they wanted the Africans to obey them – not African ‘gods’.
In Suriname the diverse African traditions of the various peoples blended in a faster rate than in the native lands in Africa. Yet, there was also a wide variety of practices, as the plantations were isolated from each other. A unity of practices could not be maintained, and isolated groups would practice to their own insight. For example, the groups at different plantations had their own Winti songs.
Winti was also influenced by the religion of the Native Americans (Ingi) who were already in the Guyanas. And, after Hindustan Indian (coolies, koelies) and Javanese (Jampanesi) ‘laborers’, and Chinese (Snesi) ‘workers’ were brought into Suriname after official abolishment of slavery, there was a further outside influence of the tradition.
Music plays a major role in winti trance in the Winti rituals. The Winti have their own songs, preference for instruments, a specific rhythmic character, and form of dance. With the right music and song, a Winti can be summoned. No matter to which Winti the ritual is dedicated, the ritual begins with a plea to Leba Winti (the messenger and God of the crossroads) and a dedication to Aisa Gado.
Songs for Aisa are played first during the prey banja (banja music rituals). During the song for Aisa, the soil or place where the ritual is held, is honored.
This is a Dutch Guyana text based on the Dutch source text at: http://www.nissaba .nl/godinnen/aisa-winti.php (no longer available).