The place to Explore Benin and its Culture
An interesting and historical sight to visit in Benin is in the Python Temple in the town of Ouidah. There is and interesting story behind how the temple came to exist. The temple is facing the Ouidah’s basilica and the adoration of pythons started after a war that took place in 1717 when the kingdom of Dahomey still existed. At the time Ouidah (Formerly called Houeda) wasn’t part of the kingdom of Benin and during that war, Ouidah was defeated. King Kpassè, ruler of the kingdom of Ouidah, fled the town and took refuge in a big forest in order to not be captured by the notorious Ghézo warriors who were seating for him. The legend has it that during the search, many pythons started to come out of the forest therefore protecting king Kpassè of Ouidah from his capture.
This was how the king was saved and decided to honor pythons by building 3 huts in that forests that will be used as monuments to commemorate pythons. The pythons are called Royal pythons and are worshipped in Benin especially in Ouidah.
The snakes are a totem in Benin and are important especially in the religion of Voodoo. They are not harmful and as a respect, pythons are not supposed to be killed or bad luck will strike if it does occur. Every 7 years, the adepts hold a ceremony where they would celebrate the symbolism and value of pythons in the temple.
The temple Anyone is welcomed to visit the Temple of Pythons. The admission fee is about $3 and there is usually a guide that will take you around and inside the huts to see the pythons. There are certain huts that are inaccessible unless you have been initiated. The guides inside the temples are initiated and can be recognized with their striking scarification on their faces.
Do not be surprised if you see a few lingering around in the courtyards and in corners. They are fed very well and are harmless.In addition, you are allowed to pitch them up and take pictures with them. It’s encouraged to tip the guide as a taken of appreciation.
To complete the visit, take a tour of the sacred forestThere are many symbolic statues and shrines to see. The forest is used during voodoo initiations rites; during those times, it’s not accessible to the public. With the help of a guide, you will get a notice on when it isn’t accessible as well as very good explanations of what each symbolic statues means.
This is a great and unique experience recommended to anyone who isn’t afraid of reptiles and are looking to get adventurous. It also happened to be in the spiritual and religious mecca of Benin and should be on any visitor’s list exploring Ouidah.