Sunday, March 24, 2013

Processing with palms and donkey

I have finally, by accident, figured out how to do Palm Sunday right here in Suchitoto.  In previous years, I've skipped the procession of palms in favor of getting an actual seat in the church, which you can only do if you're there before the palm-bearers arrive. 

This year I went to Mass Saturday night, not realizing that it would be the Sunday readings - but it was, a Palm Sunday Mass minus the palms - and plus songs and ¡Que Viva! for Monseñor Romero.  That left me free to walk down the street this morning to the Capilla la Cruz where we all gathered on the cancha (basketball court) and where I bought a puny bunch of palm leaves for a quarter.

Most everyone there had glorious palms, interwoven with flowers and a seedhead that looks like baby corn.  My puny bunch would have looked impressive in Seattle, but here ... not so great.  It felt as if everyone in Suchitoto was there, whole families and children, like this charmer:
You might notice that she has woven and beaded bracelets on both wrists.  These must stretch back to the days of the Lenca and the Pipiles: each red bracelet is threaded through a small, smooth stone, and their purpose is to keep the baby safe and whole. 

After a few songs, the padres came down through the crowd and sprinkled us and the palms and anything else sprinklable with gallons of holy water.  No tame drops here.  The acolyte holds a huge tub of water, the padres have thickly-leaved branches, and they scoop the water up and fling it out into the crowd with a will:
In truth, in the hot sun of March, it's a joy to be drenched with holy water!  My camera was also blessed, and survived the blessing.

We were all ready to go after that, and Padre Jesus had to remind us that we were supposed to hear the Gospel for the procession first.  And then we formed into lines - as always here, and it makes my gringa heart a little crazy, the men marched in the middle after the donkey carrying the statue of Jesus, and the women marched in two lines on either side.  I'd just once like to see the lines reversed, women in the center, men on the outside.   But perhaps that's not yet an image our church can stretch to, at least not in Latino America. 

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