Cajun Mardi Gras

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ACADIANA, La. — It is just after dawn on Mardi Gras, but I’m not at some Bourbon Street bar, facedown on the floor trying to rally for some morning parades. No, I’m off a country road more than 100 miles from New Orleans, shivering in near freezing weather, wearing a patchwork yellow and orange costume I pieced together, kneeling in the mud as a bunch of strangers dressed in red and black pour alcohol on me and threaten me with a whip.

In order to set foot on this farm somewhere in southern Louisiana, I had to swear not to reveal the location, the names of the event organizers or anything else that might lead you to this Cajun version of X marks the spot. The Faquetaique Courir de Mardi Gras is a version of a centuries-old begging procession that began in rural France as a precursor to Lent. This part of Louisiana, also known as Acadiana, was settled by a French Catholic diaspora expelled from northeastern Canada by the British in the 1600s. Eventually they migrated, with their French traditions, to the American South.

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