One of the very interesting traditional festivals that still exist in the Caribbean rocked the streets of Castries yesterday, a sight not seen in a long time.
It was the La Rose (La Woz) Festival, and it took the city center by storm as the various groups paraded the streets in full costume, song and dance.
This grand performance of the La Rose festival, one of two flower festivals celebrated in Saint Lucia, occurs at the end of August each year. It is a folk performance that embraces different theatrical traditions, social phenomena and is practised in many communities.
La Rose is the Festival of the Rose, and La woz is the name used by its French Creole or Patois speaking practitioners. This name may be literally translated as ‘the rose’ from the patois or Kweol (Creole language.)
The Rose Festival is not only theatrical, but also a performance tradition because it is practised through the performance of things using masquing, dance, mime, play-acting and costume. The festival yesterday was all street theatre because of the street parade. The La Rose belongs to the masquerade (maskarade) tradition since this main performance is a street procession of costumed characters including masquing, theatrics and dramatizations within the street parade. It is also a satirical festival in a tradition of rivalry.
Many St Lucians align themselves with this tradition as it is mythical, cultural, playful pretense but seriously ingrained in social practice. It is more than a performance because it is a cultural form timed with annual social activities.