Semana Santa processions

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March 24th 2008
Published: April 7th 2008
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After our blogs on Easter in Granada, you may be wondering if we actually saw any of the famous Andalusian Easter processions that we went all that way to experience....Well, yes, we did... We wanted to keep all the procession photos for a separate blog, so we wrote the previous two, and then simply forgot to write the next one.

But fear not, I have remembered. Here it is:

Processions in Granada

We didn't know when or where the processions would happen in Granada. We didn't have a timetable or anything, so we were just hoping we would bump into one.

Turned out we didn't have to worry. On the first full day in Granada, Palm Sunday, we were wandering around by the cathedral when we were stopped by a huge crowd of people outside. Assuming they were all waiting for something exciting, we joined them and waited too.
This could obviously have backfired if they had all been waiting for something totally different, like for mass, or for some sort of mass-medical procedure, but we were in luck. At 6pm a brass band marched out of the church playing
Paso of ChristPaso of ChristPaso of Christ

Part of our first procession in Granada
some really sombre music. Then lines of people marched out wearing long robes and tall pointed hoods, with just an eye slit to see out of. No, it wasn't the Klu Klux Klan, but part of the parade. Following them came an enormous statue of Christ, carried by a team of at least 30 men. It moved out of the cathedral slowly, swaying with the movement of the feet underneath. With the help of the leaders around who were shouting commands to the men underneath, they managed to manoeuvre the statue out of the cathedral door and down the steps, without anyone falling or dropping anything. This was watched with admiration from the crowds, and with rounds of applause when they negotiated a particularly tricky bit. All of this to the mournful tune of the brass bands. It was really emotional to watch. Once the statue of Jesus had come out of the cathedral and marched down the street with the accompanying followers in their robes, as well as altar boys swinging insense and carrying candles, a second statue emerged. This one was of Mary and took the same skill of manoeuvrability to get it out of the cathedral and
Sculpture of MarySculpture of MarySculpture of Mary

bear in mind that these are being carried by teams of men.
down the steps to follow the procession.

A bit of background....

The huge statues are known as Pasos and there are usually two in each procession - one of Jesus and one of Mary. They are carried by teams of men, there must be at least 30 carrying each statue. They move in a swaying motion to the beat of a drum and to the commands of the leaders around them. Every few metres the leader gives the command to stop and the men rest. I think some men must put down the statue at this point, and the rest hold it. It looks incredibly heavy. They apparently train for the processions for months before - practising by carrying other really heavy and bulky objects, and we saw them all preparing and putting on the equivalent of weight-lifting belts before the procession. The followers in the robes and pointed hats are called Nazarenos and represent penitents to God. They robes conceal their identities, the idea being that only God knows who they are. There are different Catholic brotherhoods attached the various churches in each city and town. Each brotherhood has it's own procession from it's specific church, with their own Pasos and Nazarenos with different coloured robes.

Once the parade went past us in Granada we assumed that was it, it had taken a good hour to get out of the cathedral and everyone seemed to disband from our crown of people. So we tried to go back to our hotel for a shower before dinner. But that plan was foiled, because every road we turned down to try and get back was flanked by crowd of people and in the distance we could hear the beat of drums and music of the brass bands. It seemed that there were actually several parades going on at the same time and they were marching through the whole of the city. It got quite comical, every time we rethought our route back and then got to the end of a street we were met with more men in long robes and pointed hats. We gave up in the end and just went for a drink.

The parades happened every day. Every evening the teams of men carried the Pasos out of the churches and through the city. The following day in Granada we were sat having an early evening beer in the sunshine by the Barrio (a road following the river through the city). At 6pm the sounds of brass bands started, and the drums started beating. Parades of Nazarenos marched out of a nearby church, along the Barrio. We had a really good view for this one and the lines of hooded men stretching all along the road was pretty amazing to see. Again, once the parade had passed we tried to get back to hotel and were stopped at every move by more processions!

In Salobrena

They had smaller versions of the procession in Salobrena. The statues weren't as big and impressive and there were less people involved, but we could get closer and see what was going on. The men carrying the Pasos were covered in a cloth in Granada, but in Salobrena they were on show, so you could see just how many people it took to carry the statues and what sort of organisation it took.

We went back to Madrid before the climax of the processions on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, when they apparently have silent processions which are pretty moving. But we definitely experienced different parades. It was moving and emotional and well worth seeing. I'd recommend it to anyone, whether religious or not. It shows a different type of Easter from the Easter bunny and chocolate eggs that we are used to.

Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18


Nightime processionNightime procession
Nightime procession

I think this one is one of the scenes from the Stations of the Cross - it seems to have soldiers on it.
2nd procession in Granada2nd procession in Granada
2nd procession in Granada

We were just sitting outside a bar by the Barrio (moat in the city) when the procession came past. Look how many followers there are
' Paso' of Mary' Paso' of Mary
' Paso' of Mary

having rose petals thrown at it from a window
same statue of Marysame statue of Mary
same statue of Mary

part of the 2nd procession in Granada
followers of the processionfollowers of the procession
followers of the procession

Called 'Nazarenos', they are made up of members of the church brotherhoods. They wear the costume to conceal their identities, so they are only known to God.
More NazarenosMore Nazarenos
More Nazarenos

The Klu Klux Klan are believed to have stolen the idea for the costumes
Some of the followers are childrenSome of the followers are children
Some of the followers are children

they carry the insense etc. abit like altar boys. They don't seem to wear the hoods
Procession in SalabrenaProcession in Salabrena
Procession in Salabrena

The different brotherhoods seem to have different coloured robes. They march their different [i] Pasos [/i] from different churches in the cities
Paso in SalabrenaPaso in Salabrena
Paso in Salabrena

In Granada the men carrying the statues were covered up and you could only see their legs. In Salabrena they left the cover off, which meant you could really appreciate how many men it took to carry these things. And they seemed to carry them for several hours
Men carrying the statueMen carrying the statue
Men carrying the statue

The men to the sides shout commands to those carrying the statue, so that they all move at the same time. Every few meters they stop and rest.

7th April 2008

I have to say, the KKK took the look and made it their own, kinda like the Nazi's nicking the swastika from peaceful types. Those hooded dudes look damn scary.
13th September 2008

hello my friend
hello kris, you look good. Ha Ha Ha... every at Thailand miss kate and you too.

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