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The principal belief in Haitian Vodou is that deities called Lwa (or Loa) are subordinates to a god called Bondyè, This supreme being does not intercede in human affairs, and it is to the Lwa that Vodou worship is directed. Other characteristics of Vodou include veneration of the dead and protection against evil witchcraft. Haitian Vodou shares many similarities with other faiths of the African diaspora, including the Louisiana Voodoo of New Orleans, Santería and Arará of Cuba, and Candomblé and Umbanda of Brazil.

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A Haitian Vodou temple is called an Hounfour. Vodou paraphernalia, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. In Haitian Vodou Sèvis Lwa in Creole (”Service to the Lwa”), there are strong elements from the Bakongo of Central Africa and the Igbo and Yoruba of Nigeria, although many other African nations have contributed to the liturgy of the Sèvis Lwa.

A significant portion of Haitian Vodou often overlooked by scholars until recently is the input from the Kongo. The entire northern area of Haiti is heavily influenced by Kongo practices. In northern Haiti, it is often called the Kongo Rite or Lemba, from the Lemba rituals of the Loango area and Mayombe. In the south, Kongo influence is called Petwo (Petro). Many lwa (a Kikongo term) are of Kongo origin, such as Basimbi, Lemba, etc.

Haitian creole forms of Vodou exist in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, eastern Cuba, some of the outer islands of the Bahamas, the United States, and anywhere that Haitians have emigrated to. However, it is important to note that the Vodun religion (separate from Haitian Vodou) already existed in the United States, having been brought by enslaved West Africans, specifically from the Ewe, Fon, Mina, Kabaye, and Nago groups.

Some of the more enduring forms survive in the Gullah Islands. There has been a re-emergence of the Vodun traditions in the United States, maintaining the same ritual and cosmological elements as in West Africa. These and other African-diasporic religions such as Lukumi or Regla de Ocha (also known as Santería) in Cuba, Candomblé and Umbanda in Brazil, all religions that evolved among descendants of transplanted Africans in the Americas.