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03/29/2005: "Procession"

Living in a remote hamlet somewhere in Andalucia means living in a Catholic culture too. Although the practise of Catholicism in this part of Spain is broadminded - women go to Sunday mass, men go to a bar - once or twice a year the church puts his mark on the festivities in the villages. Each one has its own Saint, who watches over the agricultural season. In our village, Mairena, the holy Marcus guides the start of the sowing season in April. In September the harvest season is celebrated with the Santa Christo de la Luz, in an impressive procession the inhabitants confirm their faith.

Image of Christo de la Luz - click here

Our Christ is a heavy statue of painted plaster. A pathetic example of his suffering; hanging on a cross, nails through bloody hands, a stingy crown on a wounded head, and grazes on his knees. Twice a year he is taken out of his niche and set on a wooden stretcher, covered by red and white carnations. The strong men of the village carry him around for a few hours. Leaving after mass just before sunset. The local brass band leads the way, playing solemn tunes, followed by the mayor, the priest and the virgins of the village. People, with dripping candles in the hand, form two rows on either side of the street, their backs pressed on the facades. Some women go barefooted. Nightfall creeps slowly into the streets of the village. Hundreds of candles give the pageant its depth, long shadows moving as ghosts through the sloping alleys. During the three hour walk every ten minutes fireworks are lit by two men carrying a big paper bag between them in which are the rockets. They are sent into the dark sky, as if it are fluorescent swirling fish. As an outsider I experience the committed devotion of faith of the people around me. The moment Christ is carried into the church again an impressive fireworks bursts, showing a colourful display above the crowd. My eyes swell and men and women around me swallow their emotion too. After several minutes of extremely loud noise, the silence is suddenly. People, relieved, share their thoughts. Slowly the crowd dissolves. People go home to have their supper and prepare themselves for the dance later in the night.


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Viņa y Rosales
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March 2005