Jamaican religious group with lively worship: a religious group in Jamaica whose worship is characterized by singing, dancing, spirit-possession, speaking in tongues, and healing rituals. [Mid-20th century. Probably an alteration of an African term after Spanish poco “little” + mania
Jamaica was said to have experienced a religious movement called the Great Revival in 1861, which saw the incorporation of much more African retention in the movement. Revivalism is divided into two groups, Zion and Pocomania. Pocomania is more African in form while Zion is more Christian oriented. These two groups have very clear differences, particularly with their functionaries and the role that they play. In Pocomania for example, the leader is always a man knows as the Shepherd while in Zion, the leader can be either a man or a woman. The Man is referred to as “Captain” while the woman is called the “Mother/Madda”. There is also a difference in their music and the form of spiritual possession.Most revival yards also contain a water pool or a large earthenware jug with water. It is said that this is the source of the water used in the rituals. In Pocomania, the water is deemed “home” of all functionaries who perform with water, for example the River Maid and Diver. On journeys, whenever the group encounters a river, the River Maid would dance in a manner simulating the motions of a swimmer to take the “bands” across the river. The Diver, would also imitating a dance, performing some action like diving.In Pocomania the feasting table is usually held on Sunday nights. The table is spread with fruits, drinks, bread, candles and vegetable. After bible reading and greetings of visitors, the table is “broken” at midnight, the food distributed among those present. On the other hand in Zion their feasting table is never held on Sundays. Both groups combine Bible reading, preaching, singing and movement in these rituals, invoking the spirits to enter the ceremony.An essential part of Pocomania meetings is the tramping and the cymbals. This occurs after the singing and Bible reading section. The members move around the circle, counter clock-wise, each using forward stepping motions with a forward bend of the body. The songs that are used in revival usually vary in tempo for example hymns and choruses. Revival also incorporates lively songs that are of a local derivation, classified as ‘warning’ songs or non-sense songs. Singing usually takes place to the beat of the drums. These drums are the Kettle-drums or bass drums which are beaten with two sticks. Tambourines might also be shaken in the rhythm along with other instruments.
Pocomania leaned to the African side of things, its Pentecostal-style services owing an obvious debt to African possession ceremonies. Worshippers would internal linkdance counter-clockwise to powerful internal linkdrums while breathing very deeply; this “trumping” would sometimes brings on possession—the “little madness” that lent the church its name.