Thursday, March 24, 2011

Processions and Carpets

We knew that the festivities of Semana Santa (Holy Week) were world-famous in Antigua and were sad that we would miss them. What we didn't know was that every Sunday in Lent there's something happening. Each Sunday, one village near Antigua has a procession that begins around 1pm and lasts until the wee hours. The procession is 40-60 men carrying a very large religious "float". They carry it, alternating carriers, from their village into and around Antigua and back to the village - for hours and hours. Many local villagers make flower carpets ("alfombras") along the streets that the procession comes down. They get up early in the morning and work until the procession. Then the procession WALKS over the carpets. How very Zen of them!
Last Sunday we went to Santa Inez, the village of the week, in the morning and watched them making the alfombras. One group even let us help a bit! Then we watched as the procession left the church and trampled the alfombras. Later that evening, after our Boston friends Anne and Jim arrived, we all ran around Antigua finding and following the procession as it made its' way around town. It's even more impressive after dark, as the floats (called "andes") are all lit up.

Locals say that these Sundays are nothing compared to the BIG one on Good Friday and the festivities leading up to that. We'll have to come back some day for that.
Working on a carpet

stenciling with wood chips

Finishing one up

Working on "our carpet"

The big carpet in front of the church

"Our" finished carpet

The procession begins

The ande ("float") - impossible to get a feel for the size

The carriers

The procession heads out
Always interested in conductors

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