2003 Mardi Gras Pictures

Grand Marais Mardi Gras Courir
March 2, 2003

gm5.jpg (54437 bytes) When the photographer approached the Grand Marais Mardi Gras in the countryside near Hathaway and offered the inane observation, "This is neat," one co-captain replied, "We don't have much. It's kind of rough." Actually, the Grand Marais Mardi Gras is rich in traditions that, like other courirs, go back many centuries. The co-captain's reply was perfectly in character with Grand Marais's display of poverty and humility. The Mardi Gras wear simple face paint, and the capitains are dressed in burlap sacks with black smeared on their faces–sackcloth and ashes. The Mardi Gras are willing to go under the lash in exchange for a homeowner's charity.
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The capitaine or co-capitaine approaches a homeowner on his knees and, with the utmost sincerity, described that the Mardi Gras are in dire need of charity. He offers to have the Mardi Gras seat themselves in a circle and sing the Grand Marais Mardi Gras Song. The homeowner may, in turn, ask to see some of the Mardi Gras whipped. While they are in their circle, the homeowner may throw change for the Mardi Gras to catch. Once the Mardi Gras have completed their song, the capitain and co-capitains will select several Mardi Gras and accuse them of various infractions of the rules like not wearing a hat. The guilty Mardi Gras must lie face down and endure a whipping in which the lashes are laid on hard–really hard–and often in a kind of scourging ritual lifted from the medieval era and somehow transplanted into rural Hathaway, Louisiana. As the lashes are administered, other Mardi Gras may leap onto the pile in an act of solidarity to try to protect their comrades.

It's probably the most elaborate drama acted out by any of the courirs in Southwest Louisiana, and, even though the lashes have got to sting, all the Mardi Gras are clearly enjoying the opportunity to display their courage.

Click here for more Grand Marais photos.

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Posted 3-30-03