How can five weeks go by so fast?
17.03.2013 - 25.03.2013 79 °F
Lent has continued to be amazing at Antigua. Five weeks of lent have come and gone so quickly I can hardly believe my time here is coming to an end. I came to Holy Week once years ago—and then only for a weekend. The experience has been profound and humbling. Week after week processions come out of churches with men called “cucuruchos” carrying a wooden platform called the “anda” with Jesus on one platform and women dressed in black carrying the Virgin Mary on another anda. If that were not impressive enough, there are children’s processions also during the week and they carry a miniature version of the Jesus float and the Virgin Mary. (Note this posting has lots of photos. Click on the photo and you'll get an explanation of what you are seeing.)
There’s a website where we could see the maps of each procession called www.i-n-r-i.org (I don’t know if it will be up after Holy Week), but it was useful to check were processions were passing. Below is the Palm Sunday Procession of La Merced Church. It started at 11:00 am.
I walked almost the entire route talking photos of the elaborate carpets that people were making in front of their homes and businesses. In some cases entire city blocks were involved. Palm Sunday commemorates the day Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. The gospels record the arrival of Jesus riding into the city on a donkey, while the crowds spread their cloaks and palm branches on the street and shouted "Hosanna to the Son of David" and "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" to honor him as their long-awaited Messiah and King.
Antigua on this day has an almost carnival feel to the city. Vendors work their way through the crowds selling their wares which include cold drinks, popcorn (freshly popped with a generator on the small cart), fruits, empanadas, and lots and lots of toys to keep the children entertained. That part of it seems surreal almost sacrilegious and strikes me as a kind of moneylender moment in the temple—but, people need to make a living and people need to eat.
A polite, “No gracias” keeps the vendors moving. While there would be no alfombras without processions, I think the alfombras are one of the main reasons people have come Antigua during Lent. Alfombras, as I mentioned in an earlier post are made by churches and lay people. I hope you enjoy my selection of alfombras from my wanderings on Palm Sunday.
The La Merced procession on Palm Sunday is large, but it was not the largest attended. The previous Sunday procession of the little church of San Bartolomeo a neighborhood just outside of Antigua, brought 100,000 of thousands into Antigua. That procession started at 06:45 am and didn’t end until 11:00 pm! I took a shining to a particular alfombra that week that I documented below beginning with a video: