Happy Semana Santa, friends!
Cuaresma (Lent) in Guatemala is a very big deal. It´s esspecially exciting because I´m living with a Catholic family in a majority-Catholic country who takes me to all sorts of fun things! Each weekend, there are big processions of people in purple cloaks carrying a huge wooden float with a scene of Jesus and His cross over elaborate colored saw-dust alfombras (carpets) that line the streets. These wooden ¨andas¨(unfortunately, I don´t know what most of this stuff is called in English...) look SUPER heavy, and they carry them around for HOURS, slowly processing through towns (and changing the carriers). I think it represents Jesus carrying His cross. To me it does, anyway.
The processessions process over these alfombras, or carpets, made of sawdust. I´ve never seen such beauty come from sawdust! It´s dyed all colors of the rainbow, they make giant wooden stencils, and then they meticulously fill the spaces of the stencil with the sawdust, working for hours to make these beautiful alfombras. Truly works of art... Which are then stomped over in a matter of minutes by the purple people. Sad day.
I´ve also been able to go to ¨velaciones¨ with my host family. These are huge (stationary) scenes of Jesus´ life complete with narration and lights (and sometimes smoke effects!), and of course, the alfombras (which don´t get ruined, so they´re even more beautiful and elaborate and usually include a lot of produce). Each cathedral has a specific Gospel passage, and put up their scene in the altar for a few days, and in those days, hundreds of people come to see cthe scenes and pray, crowding the huge churches. It´s definitely not a place for those who are clausterphobic, but it is SUCH a neat chance to see, hear, taste, and feel the life of Jesus in a whole new way. Outside, it´s super alegre- with loads of yummy street food, people selling toys, and friends (my host family seriously knows EVERYONE). It´s such a wonderful way to celebrate Jesus´ life.
This lent has been an amazing chance to experience the life and death of Jesus following a completely different tradition, and I´m so glad to be in the heart of the action here in Antigua!
Have a great Semana Santa, dedicated readers!
PS: More pictures here (from before my camera died)...