Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lenten Rituals and Practices in Iloilo

As one of the religious and cultural center of a prosperous region, Iloilo grew to be one of the country’s significant provinces. During the Holy Week, religious customs and traditions are practiced around the different municipalities, clustered and commemorated in various ways in service of worship. These are practices that inspire special devotion and many of these towns still follow customs of the Holy week that are special to them.

Although the celebration of the Holy Week It is traditionally a day of quiet meditation, a time to commit to penitence, prayer, fasting, reading and meditating on the word of God, there is a great variety on how it is observed. Iloilo takes everyone to an unforgettable Holy Week as locals and visiting tourists here and abroad experience the spirit of lent in an old fashion observance and a laid-back setting.

A trip to the different towns brings together the best elements in making your Holy week truly memorable where featured major activities for the day are matched with nightfall observances.

Many details varying with the community mark activities such as the presentation of Passion plays dramatizing the passion and death of Christ are performed annually every Good Friday such as the TALTAL in Barotac Viejo. Taltal involves performers and stage technicians, all residents of the town bringing the story of Jesus of Nazareth to life for the audiences that flocks in from around Iloilo and neighboring provinces in the region. It starts approximately from 8 a.m. until noontime.

The Good Friday procession is the most popular amongst the Lenten devotions of the Ilonggos. From the principal church, a certain amount of ceremony is tied up in luxury and splendor through a solemn procession of life-size images depicting the passion and death of Jesus Christ, mounted on huge, ornately-decorated carriages. People follow the carriages, which also bear images of their favorite saints. Most of these religious statues were hand-sculpted and have been handed down from generation to generation.

Re-enact the Way of the Cross through PASYON in Cabatuan. It is normally heard during Good Friday after the procession in the town. The recitation is chanted by local singers. They chant narratives of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and woven into poetry standard elements with colorful dramatic theme having stanzas of five lines with each line having eight syllables. They perform it in front of a specially-constructed shrine or altar locally known as KAPIYA with life-size images of Biblical characters made from indigenous materials. KAPIYA Tour is also popular in Sta. Barbara and Alimodian.

The PAHUGAS or the WASHING OF THE FEET is a traditional practice in the celebration of the Holy Week. It has become increasingly popular as a part of the Maundy Thursday observance where the Mass starts with the Lord's Supper begins and after the homily, the washing of feet may be performed. The service concludes with a procession taking the Blessed Sacrament to the place of reposition. The altar is later stripped bare, as are all other altars in the church except the Altar of Repose. The stripping of the altar and other items on the chancel occurs in preparation for the Good Friday service. The towns of Miag-ao, Leon and San Miguel are popular areas to be visited.

Visit Iloilo’s centuries-old churches and be amazed with its history and exquisitely crafted images of saints through VISITA IGLESIA, a tradition where Catholics visit the different churches after the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday. Among the major churches expected to be visited by a large number of people are the historic in the First, Second and Third Districts in the province of Iloilo.

Take the AGONY HILL trek in Alimodian and reach the summit where the cross and the area around it developed into a sightseers’ mark as one gets an exhilarating view of distant mountain ranges of neighboring towns,. Visitors and guests commemorate the Lenten Season.

The Easter Sunday is the great celebration and culmination of the Holy Week. This is the day of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the main reason why Christians keep Sunday as the primary day of religious observance. Witness the spectacle of RESPLANDOR in Alimodian and DAMPOG in Sta. Barbara, Leon, Oton and Leganes.

Each town in Iloilo has their own religious traditions besides their general festivities. It is a very important to them and is religiously celebrated. It does not only mean festivity rather it stands as the epitome of the Ilonggos’ faith in goodness and religion. It is one of the holiest days and is observed in many different ways.

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