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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Week’

As the last couple of posts hinted, this year, instead of the city, I spent much of Semana Santa (Holy Week) in one of my favorite places — Teotitlán del Valle.

This was only the beginning.  It was a colorful, moving, and delicious experience!

 

 

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Well, actually not coats.  These are the “casitas” (temporary homes) to house Jesús and María as they make their way through the streets of Teotitlán del Valle on Lunes Santo (Holy Monday).

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The aforementioned streets include several blocks of Av. Juárez — the main street into town.  Thus, I found myself being “let off” the Teoti bus by the panteón (cemetery), instead of the mercado.

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How could I complain, when these guys (above) were so welcoming and offered this weary traveler a cup of agua de guanábana, a refreshing fresh fruit drink.

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As I mentioned in Monday’s post, there are twelve casitas in all — each with “walls” of the colorful tapetes woven in this village known for the story-telling designs and striking colors of their rugs.  Apparently, up until forty years ago, the casita walls were made of petates, the traditional woven palm mats that play a role from birth to death.  But, times change, the tapetes are more colorful, and it’s good PR for this community of weavers.

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As Jesús and María near, the ground is sprinkled with water and bougainvillea blossoms are scattered on the casita floor, copal incense is lit, and platters of food and drink await to feed the faithful and quench their thirst.  More about that to come…

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Today, Lunes Santo (Holy Monday), found me in Teotitlán del Valle, as Jesús and María were carried on palanquins in a slow moving procession through town, from one temporary tapete (rug) adorned casita to another.  They will make twelve stops in all.

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This casita was erected by the family of the Vice President of the village Church Committee, Amado Gutiérrez, father of Porfirio Gutiérrez, of whom I have previously written.

There was food and drink and so much more to this solemn expression of faith, so please stay tuned…

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Una muestra (a sample) from another sublime Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) in San Antonino Castillo Velasco.

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Under the lavender canopy of jacaranda, Jesús (wearing his red cape) and his burro enter the church courtyard laden with the rich bounty of the village.

More to come…

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Tomorrow is Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) and the start of Semana Santa (Holy Week).  In preparation, the palm weavers from the pueblitos of the Mixteca have come down to the city to work their magic and sell their wares under the watchful eye of the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.

Ladders have been hauled out onto the sidewalks, so windows and doorways can be decorated in purple and white.  Why those colors? You might well ask.

According to The Color Symbolism of Lent and Easter, purple “is a deep, almost night-like color that focuses our attention on the fasting and repentance associated with the Lenten season…. As an act of derision toward Our Lord, Pilate placed a purple robe on Jesus, whom he called “‘King of the Jews’” and white “symbolizes both the bright light of the moment of Resurrection and the purity of God’s love for His People.”

However, the above mentioned website also states that the color of Palm Sunday, itself, is red, “even though this Mass commemorates Christ entering Jerusalem in triumph, this color foreshadows His death on the cross on Friday.”  I will take note tomorrow when I return to San Antonino Castillo Velasco for their very special way of celebrating Palm Sunday.

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Late afternoon on Good Friday (Viernes Santo), the people began gathering along the sidewalks of the Andador Turístico (aka, the Alcalá), Allende, and Garcia Vigil, staking out a favored spot to watch the Procession of Silence.  Not to worry, the Girl and Boy Scouts were there to keep everything and everybody in order and to remind one and all to “please, keep silent.”

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And, lest you misbehave, there were a couple of drones hovering above the fray to record the action, both good and bad, and offering an interesting juxtaposition against Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán’s colonial architecture — the old and new of Oaxaca.IMG_1083

Daylight Savings Time hasn’t yet begun in Mexico and the setting sun offered dramatic light as Señor de La Columna emerged from Santo Domingo to take his place in the procession.IMG_1074

However, the light was fading fast as the high-pitched tones of the chirimía and the rhythmic beat of the tambor at last heralded the start of the procession and Señor de la Humildad y Paciencia made his way from Templo de la Preciosa Sangre de Cristo.IMG_1110

As darkness fell, the street lights proved challenging and my photos of the 50+ religious banners, as they slowly passed my vantage point on Allende, left a lot to be desired, except for this littlest of standard bearers.IMG_1156

This year the faces of Jesús and María seemed to be lit from underneath and that helped a bit.IMG_1172

However, perhaps the darkness was whispering to me to stop making photos and just “be” with the experience.IMG_1189

This was the thirtieth year of Oaxaca’s Procesión del Silencio and so I suspect there will many more to come.

 

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Jesus and Mary up close and in color from their Viernes Santo (Good Friday) morning meeting in front of Oaxaca’s Cathedral.

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I know, some photos just beg for a caption.  Once all the Marys and Jesuses had gathered, prayers had been recited, and rituals performed, they all processed back to their home churches to rest up for the evening’s Procession of Silence.

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… including Soledad.  Since she was going my way, I walked her home.

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And, yes, she made it back to the Basilica safe and sound.

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A few Viernes Santo (Good Friday) favorites from the morning’s encounter between Jesús and María in front of the Cathedral.

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Faces that have become familiar.

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Though rain began falling, clutching camera, umbrella, and my ten peso bag of pan bendito (blessed bread), I left the cozy dry confines of my apartment to join the faithful in a ritual promenade.  It’s Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday, Maundy Thursday), commemorating the Last Supper of Jesus, the washing of feet,  and the apprehension and imprisonment of Jesus.

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San José de Gracia, Oaxaca de Juárez

Tradition in Oaxaca calls for visiting seven churches (la visita de las siete casas) with one’s pan bendito and palm leaves.  The faithful use the latter to touch images of Jesús and María.  This year, I again committed myself to the mission.  My first stop was just around the corner at San José de Gracia and the second was even easier — the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, just across the Plaza de la Danza from the former.

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Watery entrance to the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, Oaxaca de Juárez

While inside, attempting (unsuccessfully) to get a good shot of Nuestra Señora, the heavens opened up in a downpour.  Needless to say, I hung out with Soledad until the torrential rain calmed to only a steady drizzle.

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Neverías at the Jardín Sócrates, Oaxaca de Juárez

However, the rain didn’t stop the faithful and tourists, alike, from stopping to enjoy a nieve (iced dessert) right outside the Basilica, before continuing on.  I kept on moving — down the steps to Calle Independencia, on my way to the Templo de San Felipe Neri.

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Exit sign at Templo de San Felipe Neri, Oaxaca de Juárez

By the way, Jueves Santo is such a big deal, to avoid gridlock from those coming and going, the churches designate one door as the “entrance” and another as the “exit.”  It’s a great idea in theory but in practice, especially on a rainy night, it was almost meaningless.

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Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, Oaxaca de Juárez

Next stop was across the street at the inconspicuous Iglesia San Cosme y Damián, then on to the very prominent Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, where the three front entrances were providing tourists, vendors, and believers shelter from the storm.

After navigating my way through the Cathedral, I exited stage right, dashed across the zócalo and into La Compañía (the Jesuit church).  On my way out the side door, I stopped briefly to buy a bag of homemade gingersnaps and, with umbrella raised, headed to my seventh and final church of the night, El Carmen de Abajo.  Though tempted by the aroma of some yummy looking food several “church ladies” were selling in the side foyer, I didn’t have enough hands to hold a paper plate, my camera, and my umbrella.  So, home I went, basking in the warm feelings I always have after being with my Oaxaqueño neighbors.

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Lunes Santo (Holy Monday), at least here in Oaxaca, brings the Festividad del Señor del Rescate (Festival of the Lord of the Redemption).  I was clueless, until I ran into my neighbor Juan as he was returning from work.  He recommended that I and my camera check out the action in the vicinity of the Basílica de la Soledad.  I grabbed my keys and little Lumix and off I went.

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I heard the rhythmic beat of the tambor and chanted prayers before I saw El Señor and his followers paused in front of the bunker at the entrance to the Comisión de Seguridad Pública, Vialidad y Protección Civil headquarters on Av. Morelos.  An ironic or fitting (?) site for the handcuffed Jesus to stop on the Víacrucis por la Reconciliación y la Paz (Way of the Cross for Reconciliation and Peace).

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On this Lunes Santo, the (almost) full moon watched standard bearers navigate the maze of overhead wires as the procession continued to wind its way through the city’s streets.  As for me, I returned home to eat dinner — there is so much going on, one has to pace oneself.

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While technically Semana Santa (Holy Week) doesn’t begin until Sunday, the six weeks of Lent has gently ushered us toward it.  Tourists, a majority from other parts of Mexico, have begun filling the streets, purple and white papel picado flutters from on high, and an artisan market has been set up on the Alcala, above Santo Domingo.

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Salvia Hispanica (aka, chia) sprouting from terracotta clay animals decorates altars — seeds which were blessed on February 2 (Feast of Candelaria).  According to an article in MexConnect, “Growing greens remind the viewer of the resurrection and renewal of life.” By the way, this is where the US entrepreneur who, in the late 1970s, gave the world “chia pets” borrowed (stole) the idea.

P1170511And yesterday, the 6th Friday of Lent, El Día de la Virgen de Dolores (the Virgin of the Sorrows) was celebrated.  Her tearful eyes looking to the heavens in anguished sorrow.P1170513

Tomorrow is Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) and El Señor del Burrito in San Antonino Castillo Velasco beckons.

FYI:  Vive Oaxaca is posting Semana Santa events on their website.

 

 

 

 

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It’s Carnaval time in Teotitlán del Valle.  Yes, I know, Easter was last Sunday and Lent is over.  However, like many other things (e.g., not going on Daylight Saving Time), this Zapotec village does things their own way.  Thus, instead of celebrating Carnaval the day before Lent begins, they celebrate for the five days following Easter!  As I’ve written about previously, Carnaval in Teotitlán is a major production that indeed takes a village; young and old, female and male all have parts to play in the festivities that include music, masked men, mezcal, and mouthwatering mole.

Yesterday, rather than sitting with the men and scattering of male and female extranjeros, gal pal J and I hung out with the women and children in the outdoor kitchen that had been set up in the back of the large earthen courtyard.  There the women prepared enough chicken, mole amarillo, and tortillas to feed one hundred!

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The seemingly always well-behaved kids played and took care of the babies while their mamas and abuelas worked.

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Muchisimas gracias to the women and children of Teotitlán del Valle’s Segunda Sección for being so gracious and welcoming.

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I wasn’t brought up in the Virgin and crucified Christ tradition.  No baggage, no boredom — perhaps that is why I find the multiplicity of María and Jesús images so fascinating.  Thus, I can’t resist a little “up close and personal” at the Procession of Silence.

Señor de Esquipulas

Señor de Esquipulas – Parroquia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen Alto

Nuestra Señora de Los Dolores - Parroquia de Santo Tomas Xochimilco

Nuestra Señora de Los Dolores – Parroquia de Santo Tomas Xochimilco

Señor de Las Tres Caídas - Parroquia de Santo Tomás Xochimilco

Señor de Las Tres Caídas – Parroquia de Santo Tomás Xochimilco

La Piedad

La Piedad

Jesús con la Cruz a Cuestas - Capellanía de Nuestra Señora del Patracinio

Jesús con la Cruz a Cuestas – Capellanía de Nuestra Señora del Patracinio

Nuestra Señora de los Dolores -  Capellanía de Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio

Nuestra Señora de los Dolores – Capellanía de Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio

Señor de La Columna - Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán

Señor de La Columna (front) – Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán

Señor de La Columna (back) - Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán

Señor de La Columna (back) – Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán

The rituals and images continue to remain alien to me, but I can’t help but appreciate them as cultural expressions.

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As far as I’m concerned, Señor de la Humildad y Paciencia was the patron saint of Friday’s, Procession of Silence.  He waited for hours inside the Templo de la Preciosa Sangre de Cristo, while we waited for hours outside, for the procession to begin.

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At least he was sitting down.  For the penitents, their lot was a lot of standing around.

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Some of the participants passed the time joking around (and occasionally teasing this gringa blogger), others looked incredibly bored, but all remained patiently stationed in place.  After all, in the words of one guy’s t-shirt, “don’t panic,”  it will eventually start.

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Then, there is always one’s cell phone to provide a bit of distraction.

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The 6 PM start time for the procession came and went, as did the daylight and my hope for taking any decent photographs of the actual procession.  (One of these days, I will master night photography of moving objects, she says, hopefully!)  It looked like even San Pedro was looking to the heavens for divine intervention to get the show on the road.

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About 6:45 PM, with lights flashing, a small phalanx of motorcycle police signaled our prayers had been answered and a hush fell over the multitudes lining the sidewalks, streets, and balconies — the Procesión del Silencío had finally begun.

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Good Friday morning, the streets of Oaxaca are quiet, and solitude seems to be the order of the day.  The only sounds that could be heard coming from the streets in my ‘hood were prayers being sung as Our Lady of Solitude left her eponymous home at the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad.

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As you can see, alone, Oaxaca’s patron saint was not; acolytes carried and accompanied her on her morning stroll.

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A crystal clear, brilliant blue sky provided a backdrop for her sojourn.

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Slowly she made her way down Independencia en-route to the Cathedral.

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She was one of the first to arrive at this ritual Viernes Santo gathering.

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The guys took over and maneuvered her into position at the side of the Cathedral, as the faithful awaited.

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There, she would soon be joined by other images of the Santísima Virgen and Jesús from many of the numerous churches in the Historic District.

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After at least two hours of prayers and songs and more prayers, Soledad returned to the Basilica, perhaps to rest (like me) before again taking to the streets for this evening’s Procession of Silence.

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