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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Culture From St. Georges, Bermuda: The Ducking of A Gossiper

On the eastern side of the island of Bermuda, there is a pristine, little town call St. Georges. This small but historically rich town is home to many historic buildings, proud celebration and momentous rituals. The town begins each new year with a gathering in the town square, where the town's people give thanks for the old year, while accepting the unknown that lies ahead in the new year. This is done with a grand celebration of the island culture. In recent years the festival has grown to the point where people from all over the island and around the world come to look forward with great anticipation and will congregate in the town’s square to be apart of the New Year celebration.

There is also the peppercorn parade, it is customary, that the head of the island: the Governor, who enters the parade with his wife to 17 gun salute, in a horse-drawn carrage and the head of government: the premier are always in attendance this prestigious event.

In the summer, the town also has its Tuesday night; Harbor Night celebration. This celebration is geared for the tourist but is very much patronized by the locals. At Harbor Night the local artisans offer their craft for sale and the tourists are entertained by the talents of Bermuda. Harbor Night is a romantic rendezvous for local and visitors alike. A couple can sit by the sea, as they listen to the gentle waves carresses the shore envoking the spirit of romance or you can be mesmerize by the rich Caribbean music that dances its way into your hearts, un-leaching the unexpressed love that resides there, as you sit snuggled close to the one you love; enjoying a cheap, simple yet tasty Bermudian dinner under the moon or starlight.

But the most fascinating event that is replayed on a regular basis is the use of the ducking chair. The ducking chair was a punishment that was design to punish rude, disruptive and gossiping women of yesteryear. Ducking was a punishment that was design to humiliate the offenders; except for when it was done in the cold winter months. Below are photos I took while I was in Bermuda, which captured a re-enactment of a ducking ceremony. The female that was being punished was found guilty of gossiping. I hope you enjoy these photos and the story that is told.

The culprit and defiant convicted gossiper is bound by her hands in the public square (King's Square) awaiting her punishment; apart of the public humiliation

Still defiant, the convicted gossiper angrily curses at those who are endowed with the power to ensure her punishment
The chief constable and member of the public (in this case tourist) assist the state in the execution of the punishment.

The convicted gossiper brace herself as her punishment of being; she is about to be dunked into the cold pre-winter seawater.

The convicted gossiper is about to violently plunged into the cold pre-winter seawater

The convicted gossiper is totally submerged into the cold pre-winter seawater

The First dunk into the water knocked all signs of defience from the convicted gossiper.

The convicted gossiper wipes the water away from her face enabling her to see and breathe as she surfaced after being submerged

The convicted gossiper fixes her clothes in order to lessen her humiliation by ensuring that the public do not view her private areas as she recomposes herself to have the dunking/ducking repeated. as prescribed by the magistrate.

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