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Posts Tagged ‘Palm Sunday’

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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Another magical Domingo de Ramos spent in San Antonino Castillo Velasco.  Experiencing Palm Sunday in this small Zapotec village never fails to nourish the soul.

A band played outside the panteón as villagers, from niños and niñas to abuelas and abuelos, arrived bringing their biggest and most beautiful fruits and vegetables, breads and baked goods, carved wooden toys and embroidered clothing, not to mention, goats, chickens, rabbits, and even a pig or two.  Three silver-haired abuelas inspected each donation; their faces expressing gratitude and appreciation for each offering, as they affixed a price tag.  Following the procession to the templo and a mass, all would be sold to raise money for the work of the church.

These were offerings to San Salvador, who sat proudly atop el Señor del Burrito, who was up to his ears in produce and bread.

At 11:00 AM, after prayers were offered in gratitude and for continued abundance in this fertile valley, led by the beat of two tambors and the high-pitched lilt of a chirimía, a procession to the church began.  Palm crosses were distributed to villagers and visitors, alike, and many carried (or led, in the case of the livestock) the offerings that had been collected.

Once secured, it took twenty men to hoist and carry the bounty-laden anda, with San Salvador and the burro, a ritual reenactment of the Biblical story of Jesus entering Jerusalem riding on a burro to celebrate the Passover.  As the procession made its way to the church, the rhythmic sounds were occasionally overpowered by shouts warning the men of topes (speed bumps) and low hanging telephone wires that must be navigated, and then there were the stairs leading up to the church atrium.

I cannot begin to express how warm and welcoming the people of San Antonino Castillo Velasco were.  Countless times, as I was taking photos, officials encouraged me to come closer and villagers ushered me to the front.  How many magical experiences can one person have?

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San Antonino Castillo Velasco continues to enchant.  What’s not to like about a village known for growing flowers, decorating graves with designs created with flor inmortal (immortal flowers) during Día de los Muertos, and floral designs executed in exquisite embroidery?!!

Then there is Palm Sunday and the tradition of gathering at the panteón, loading El Señor del Burrito with locally grown bounty, blessing by the priest, an incense led procession carrying it to the church, and then selling it to raise money for a local orphanage.

It never ceases to amaze!  The produce loaded onto the Little Burro, along with the overflow, was fantastic — enormous cabbages, the whitest of white cauliflower, perfect roses, cacao beans, squash, fruits, and on and on…

Then there are the people… young and old, they are always gracious and welcoming. And this year, under temperatures threatening 90ºF, women were circulating throughout the gathering crowd, offering thirst quenching aguas to stave off dehydration.

Oh yes, there were also kids and animals — and sometimes together!  As I think I’ve mentioned before, children in these indigenous communities seem to always be included and when old enough (5 and up, I’m guessing), given responsibilities — joy and exuberance, along with patience and commitment, abound.

I loved watching the little boys wrangling the goats as the procession proceeded from the panteón to the church.

 

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In front of Oaxaca’s Cathedral, the Palm weavers from the Mixteca have been practicing their craft with awesome dexterity, creativity, and skill.

All is ready for Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday).

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Palm Sunday also brought us to the village of Santiago Apóstol and one of my favorite painted churches.

Facade of church at Santiago Apóstol

This beautiful facade was hidden behind a stage, presumably set up for outdoor masses during Semana Santa.

Large crucifix on the stage in front of the church

We weren’t the only ones who negotiated the dusty back roads out of San Antonino Castillo Velasco; Señor del Burrito was already there when we arrived.  Apparently, he knew a shortcut!

Señor del Burro on stage in front of church

Inside the empty church (pews had been moved outside), amidst the smoky incense filled haze, the ethereal voices of these women transported us…

7 women sitting in chairs in front of an altar, in the haze of incense.

This wasn’t the first time we had been enchanted in Santiago Apóstol.  During Días de muertos, the entire Panteón is whitewashed and filled with an explosion of red, orange, yellow, and magenta flowers.

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Yesterday, I spent another magical day with friends in San Antonino Castillo Velasco (about 23 miles/1 hour  from the the city).  It was Domingo de Palmas (Palm Sunday) and San Antonino celebrates in its own unique, warm, and welcoming way.

Townspeople gather in the cemetery to decorate the “Señor del Burrito” with fruit, vegetables, flowers, and everything they sell or grow during the year.  In addition, livestock (goats, chickens, pigs, etc.), more foodstuffs, flowers, etc. are gathered and priced.  The pastor of the parish church arrives to bless the “Lord of the Little Burro” and offerings.  Palm crosses are distributed, all are invited to help carry the offerings to the church, 10-12 men hoist the burro (now laden up to his neck and weighing who knows what!), and a procession to the church commences, lead by a fast-tempo drum beat and punctuated by shouts warning the men carrying “Señor del Burrito” of upcoming topes (speed bumps) and telephone wires, which must be navigated.

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At the church, “Señor del Burrito” has an honored place in the courtyard and the offerings are gathered and arranged.  Many then attend an hour-long mass inside the church, while others partake in yummy amarillo and pork empanadas, taste mezcal, and browse the wares of the artisan booths.  By the way, at least two of the “maestros” from the new, previously mentioned, book, Grandes Maestros del Arte Popular de Oaxaca were present:  Familia García Mendoza (ceramics)  and Antonina Cornelio, who makes the exquisitely embroidered clothing typical of San Antonino Castillo Velasco (and seen in one or two of the photos above).  Following the mass, the offerings are sold, with the proceeds going to an orphanage in the village.

Muchisimas gracias to the people of San Antonino Castillo Velasco for being so gracious and allowing us to share this special day with them.

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Yesterday, on the stairs leading to the Basilica de la Soledad, I bought my woven palm fronds from these gals.  Palm frond weaving gals

However, this gal insisted I take her picture, too!Palm frond weaver on stairs.

And today, on the plaza in front of the Basilica, the faithful waited for the outdoor mass and the blessing of their palms.Woman seated on stoop with palm fronds.

Sisters, perhaps?2 women wearing rebozos, with their palms.

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