Mar 28, 2003, 8:09 AM
Post #1 of 1
A Sneak Peek at Good Friday in Michoacan
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April 18, 2003
April 9, 2004
The traditional religious celebrations of Good Friday in Michoacan emphasize the use of religious images from the 16th to the 18th centuries Tzintzuntzan, Pátzcuaro and Tlalpujahua, among other places.
THE MOST OUTSTANDING
Tzintzuntzan. Before the European Conquest, this was the capital of the Purepecha Empire. What takes place here is distinct from the rest of Mexico.
In the morning, the personages of Barabas and Judas greet visitors.
During the course of the day, the “penitents,” persons known for their religious fervor, pay their respects to the Holy Burial. Various forms of penitents take place throughout the day. All cover their faces and are sem-clad, some asking for charity, others whipping themselves, carrying heavy crosses, wearing shackles, handcuffing their wrists and ankles, causing pain to their genital areas or combining various forms of punishment.
By night, and almost naked, covered with only a sendal and hood, the faithful males of Tzintzuntzan practice an unusual form of penitence, which consists of walking through the town, their faces covered, the ankles shackled with the same shackles which the town fathers have jealously guarded for the past 500 years, since the era of slavery under the Spanish Conquest. Others also inflict physical punishment upon themselves.
Not until some twenty of the shackled who arrive under the guard of the town fathers do the penitents really begin to suffer. The instruments of punishment are adjusted so as not to permit the feet of penitents to touch the ground, obliging them to run on their toes.
Some hitch the ties to their wrists, passing the tie between their legs, and others lash themselves with a nail-studded whip, slashing their backs.
It is said that the shackles belonged to the old Spanish conquerors, who used them to bring slaves under the control of New Spain.
As if mandated by the original instruments, the last participants wait under the first have finished their routes of penitence before taking on more instruments of torture.
In a similar fashion, during the day re-creations of the Passion Play with the Capture of Christ and the tribunals of Herod and Pilate, concluding with the execution of Christ, starting with the Way of the Cross traveling through 14 stations around the parish courtyard, accompanied by various biblical characters.
The act concludes with the Crucifixion and Death of Christ and the Sermon of the Seven Words from the Cross. The portrayal of Christ by individuals ends the act in front of the church’s doors, where an image made of pasta de caña (a material made from the inner cores of cornstalks) takes his place for the scene of the crucifixion. The image is placed in an urn where it remains for the rest of the year as a “holy burial.”
No one can touch the image nor the cross nor any instrument used in the crucifixion with bare hands.
While the scene develops, the townspeople fill the temple, crying, singing, and declaring their faith.
It should be emphasized that the Christ of the crucifxion is known as “The One of the Holy Burial,” an image of pasta de caña (a pre-Hispanic artesanial technique) with roots in the 16th Century. Also participating are the two thieves, Dimas and Gestas, represented in the same manner. This is the only place where the figures of the Calvary are made of pasta de caña, because the parish churches of this region were the first to be evangelized.
At dusk, the Procession of the Holy Burial begins, accompanied by biblical characters and Christ, making its rounds through the main streets of the town.
At night begins the vigil of the Holy Burial, with prayers and songs, while the all the faithful appear with candles.
In Tarímbaro, the Passion Play begins in the morning and concludes with the crucifixtion. Other activities take place in the afternoon. Stressing visiting the sick, parishoners gathering together at the church, praying and singing, carrying large torches, and adorning each house they visit with a carpet of flowers and colored sawdust.
In Indaparapeo the re-enactment also takes place in the morning and at dusk, ending with a unique ceremony in the church where the priest gives the Sermon of the Seven Words “in darkness,” with the lights shut off and and amid gloomy sounds and impressions until eight at night when the Adoration of the Holy Burial is carried out. The faithful gather, bearing purple lanterns.
In Pátzcuaro, the Passion Play also takes place, including a procession of images of Christ, an old tradition in which the numerous communities along the lake and its island participate.
Men and women carry the images of Christ in different sizes, all the while intoning the old songs which are part of this tradition.
The Christs are made of pasta de caña, a technique perfected by the indigenous people long before the Spanish Conquest and used to create images of their gods. After the Conquest, the same techniques were used to create images of the Virgin and saints.
In Morelia, the Procession of Silence takes place at 7:00 p.m.. A procession of three hours’ duration, it starts at the Church of the Mater Dolorosa (“Our Lady of Sorrow”), passing by the Sanctuary of Guadalupe, and concluding at the Plaza Capuchinas.
The participating parishoners, along with members of various devout groups wearing hoods, accompany the Virgin of Solitude, bearing candles, while another group marches with drums, beating rhythms throughout the journey.
Yet another group sings “Saetas,” mournful Easter songs, from selected balconies of the elegant houses along Madero Avenue and other streets.
On Good Friday, similar re-enactments take place in the towns like Charo, La Piedad, Aquila, Ucareo, Villa Morelos, Tangamandapio, Pichátaro and Panindícuaro. In the last town, during the procession of the Holy Bural are carried images from the 16th Centuury and the Virgin of Solitude, reportedly in the size of a Spaniard.
Credit: Sectur, Michoacan
(This post was edited by jennifer rose on Mar 28, 2003, 4:40 PM)