Friday, April 6, 2012

Before the Parade Passes By

The procession of Jesús del Gran Poder (Jesus of the Great Power) marched through the night and reached our plaza at 6:15 this morning. It was supposed to be here at 7:31. I set my alarm for 6:45. Fortunately, San Geraldo (aka Jerry) had been up since 5:30.  At 6:10, he peaked outside to see approaching a long, snaking line of hooded candle-lit figures, and he woke me up. I threw on clothes, grabbed my camera and ran out on a balcony.

THIS LITTLE PIGGY...
WALKED FOR MORE THAN EIGHT HOURS ON COLD COBBLESTONES.

The sun had not yet risen, and I was disappointed to realize I was going to have more shots in the dark. I took a couple of quick photos of the unbelievably long line of penitents and then decided to head downstairs (the streets hadn't yet filled) to get a different point of view.

6:30 A.M.  SO MUCH FOR MY BEAUTY SLEEP.

Down on the street, I could get some close-up shots and use my flash. As news spread, the neighborhood again filled with people. The café, El Sanedrín, had stayed open all night and closed after the procession passed. I saw two men drinking large "gin-tonics" at 6:30 a.m. (and, boy, did they look good — the drinks, not the men).

AT FIRST, EXTREMELY EERIE AT STREET LEVEL.

Once I was on the side street, I was within inches of the black-hooded "penitents." It was very unsettling; like being surrounded by executioners. The procession was silent and solemn. When passersby spoke above a whisper, you would hear gentle "shhhhhs" from all directions. The lines of penitents, again two-by-two, stretched as far as the eye could see, with rarely a break for acolytes who carried some special item — a gold crucifix, a sterling silver bible, an embroidered banner.

JUST A LITTLE SPLASH OF COLOR.

I've learned that the men who carry the floats are called costaleros. Since it's such back-breaking work, they have multiple shifts. Our plaza is a good place for the teams to switch. Unfortunately, I wasn't on the plaza — where I might have gotten some great shots of each float as it sat motionless for the few minutes it took to accomplish the well-practiced shift change. I was further up the street awaiting their arrival. The new team had an awful lot of energy and passed me at breakneck speed before adjusting their pace.

JESÚS AND THE CHERUBS. ALL A BLUR AS THE COSTALEROS VERY NEARLY TROT BY.

After the float carrying Jesus passed, there were yet more penitents. Jerry (who watched from upstairs) and I guessed there were somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 participants in this particular procession.

STILL MOVING AT QUITE A CLIP.

It took more than an hour for the entire procession to pass my position. The float carrying Jesus required 35 costaleros. Further along came the canopied float carrying María Santísima del Mayor Dolor (Holy Mary of the Great Sorrow), which used 30 costaleros.

HOLY MARY OF THE GREAT SORROW, ACCOMPANIED BY ST. JOHN.

THEY REFUSED TO STOP FOR ME TO TAKE PICTURES.

THE DOWAGER DUCHESS WOULD, AT MINIMUM, APPRECIATE THE AMAZING NEEDLEWORK.

There was another procession, two blocks away, and that one was less somber; I could hear the band playing. Many people quickly ran in the direction of the music. I, on the other hand, headed upstairs and went back to bed.

22 comments:

  1. All these posts on the traditions of Holy Week in Seville are fascinating. Does this happen all over Spain, do you think?

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    Replies
    1. Kristi:
      My understanding is that there are processions and similar events in much of Spain, but that Sevilla's observance is by far the most impressive. However, I haven't been to any of the other cities to experience Semana Santa.

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  2. You live in a scary neighborhood. Oy.

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    1. Walt the Fourth:
      It really was chilling when I went outside this morning, but I did manage to come home with my head still attached to my neck.

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  3. It's all very tastefully subtle and understated, isn't it.

    ;-)

    Amazing!

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    Replies
    1. The Owl Wood:
      And this WAS the tasteful and understated. Wait another week and I'll share photos of Feria -- color, costume, music, and celebration. That will be a nice change.

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  4. I can't imagine just waking up and seeing these characters!!! So very serious and sombre......the other side of Spain filled with culture and religion.
    Great photos Mitch and very brave of you get them! Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Jim. I did think I was brave (and I only whimpered for the first 45 minutes).

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  5. Unbelievable...really...thanks for showing us this because I would never have known that this goes on in the world...I feel so sheltered.

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  6. Do all these processions and events bring in a lot of tourists? It seems like a tremendous lot of effort for just a local celebration.

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    Replies
    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      I've been told that for Semana Santa the population of Sevilla goes from around 800,000 to over 2 million. It's a huge boon for tourism.

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  7. Take your camera on Sunday morning.

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    1. Will:
      The camera case is now always attached to my belt!

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  8. Very interesting posts. And I thought Italians were big on processions and ritual! Religion has produced some odd traditions in all parts of the world it seems. Here in the US, Homeland Security would go crazy if these guys in hoods and masks started parading down Pennsylvania Avenue or and other avenue for that matter. Its all relative...Enjoy the holiday.

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    Replies
    1. Frank:
      I used to think those processions in Little Italy in New York were over the top. Not anymore.

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  9. This is all so fascinating.
    I see so many different rituals in my line of work. But none like this.

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  10. Stew:
    You should suggest this style for your next service.

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  11. This is a mind blowing experience to see this procession I should think. All the devotion expressed by those who process is beyond my comprehension. Long may these spectacles continue as long as thy give comfort and solace to those who need it. An interesting post as ever, so thank you.

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