PRESS RELEASE – THE Marguerite Festival (FètMagwit) honouring Patron Saint Marguerite-Marie Alacoque is celebrated on October 17 every year in a community selected by Marguerite groups from around Saint Lucia. The festival is unique to Saint Lucia and has both religious and social significance.
Traditions of song and dance are handed down from older generations to the young, succeeding members of the floral society. The celebration consists of parades of royal parties (kings, queens, princes, princesses), members of the judiciary (magistrates, lawyers, police officers, soldiers) and affluent professionals of present-day society (doctors, nurses).
One of the major highlights of the festivities is the flavour of music with both African and European elements. Musicians, including a singer: chantè (male) or chantwèl (female) and instrumentalists such as violinists, banjo players, drummers and other percussionists, carry the tone of the activities with singing and dancing.
In preparation for the grand celebration (gwanfèt), groups host mock activities (séyans) which serve as fund-raising events before their ‘big’ day. The members of the floral society rehearse their roles led by music from their musicians whose infectious singing encourage dancing and participation.
This year’s celebrations include a gwanséyans which will take place on Friday, October 13 on the Mabouya Valley Playing Field in the fishing village of Dennery from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Participating groups include Dennery, Aux Lyons, Richfond, Grand Riviere, Vieux Fort, Laborie and DerniereRiviere. On Monday, October 16, a Schools’ Church Service is scheduled for the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Castries at 10:00 a.m.
On the feast day, Tuesday, October 17, the vibrant village of Laborie will welcome celebrants and well-wishers for the gwanfèt. The day’s celebrations will commence with a church service which will be led by Fr. Albert Smith and assisted by Fr. Athanase Joseph at the Church of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary from 9:30 a.m.
An elaborate parade will follow at 11:00 a.m. through the streets of Laborie. From 1:00 p.m., groups will gather at the Desmond Collymore Park, where they will each make presentations, all paying homage to their beloved globe amaranth. In the evening, groups will return to their respective communities where they will continue the celebrations.