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Posts Tagged ‘Semana Santa’

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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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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2 viejitos, nose to nose

Tête-à-tête between Viejitos (I know, I’m mixing languages), seen between the shoulders of two municipal leaders, on the Municipal Plaza in Teotitlán del Valle during this year’s previously mentioned Carnaval.

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True confession:  I’m not in Oaxaca!  I arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area a week ago for a 3-week visit.  While I love seeing family, friends, “my” mountain (Mt. Tamalpais), and the Pacific Ocean, it also means bone-chilling summer fog, driving instead of walking most everywhere, and the absence of my regular blog fodder — no calendas, ferias, festivals, saints days, bandas, and urban art.  (Though, I will probably head to San Francisco for the latter!)

However, this break-in-the-action gives me time to look back through thousands of photos and create posts that had been put on the back-burner when something bigger, better, or more timely cropped up.

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So, here we go, back to Friday, April 24, 2014 — the last of five days of Carnaval in Teotitlán del Valle.

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While there are masks, costumes, men dressed as women, and merriment, this is not your Christian pre-Lenten Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras Carnival.

Man wearing female mask, wig, and clothing

This is a pre-Hispanic celebration that happens the Monday through Friday after Easter, not before Lent.

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Via El Baile de Los Viejitos (the Dance of the Old Men), it brings the community and elected leadership together to remind each of their social contract — in an extremely humorous way.

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A procession, gathering participants along the way, leads to the Municipal Plaza, where it seems as if the entire village assembles.

2 elderly women watching Dance of the Old Men

And, of course, the dance and ritual continue late into the night…

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Good Friday wasn’t all about Mary.  Viernes Santo processions present larger-than-life images of Jesús in all his piety and suffering.

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Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ Superstar
Do you think you’re what they say you are?

Superstar, lyrics by Andrew Lloyd Webber

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Good Friday in Oaxaca… Jesús may be the one who they say was crucified and resurrected, but María is never far from his side.

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From frequent traveler to Oaxaca, Liza Bakewell’s book, Madre:  Perilous Journeys with a Spanish Noun:

One can travel all over Spain and its former viceroyalties and never see as many elaborately bedecked and bejeweled Virgins as one will see here in Mexico — neither in number, nor in glory.  Yes, in Peru there are many famously ornate ones.  In Colombia, too.  Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador have their share.  The Philippines is a runner-up.  But Mexico has all of them beat.  Marian devotion, the worship of the Virgin Mary in all her forms through song, prayer, writing painting, sculpture, and shrines, went wild in Mexico.  (p. 169)

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From the streets of Oaxaca today, wishing you happy Easter Sunday…

Palm fronds and cross against blue wall

Four Twenty Day

Caps with Bob Marley image & marijuana leaves

almost Earth Day…

T-shirt "Local food = primary care"

And, though nothing seen around the streets of the city, a happy Passover!

 

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