Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Friday

Despite a rather late night on Thursday, I was up with the larks on Good Friday morning, so I could make a batch of hot cross buns. It is so nice to have a proper cooker to use again after six months at the flat without one. The kitchen soon smelled lovely and spicey, and by a late breakfast/early lunch, we were able to sit down to warm buns which were very nice, even if I shouldn't say so myself.
We then set off to the little town of Turre, just five minutes drive from here, because the local paper said they have one of the better 'small town' Good Friday processions. It was well worth going to. The town has three hermanadades or brotherhoods, each responsible for a different part of the ceremony. They each started their bit of the procession with an adult carrying a banner, accompanied by children wearing the costume of their group. The first was white, then green, and finally purple, the traditional colours in the church for Easter. Behind this group came the trono (throne) carrying a statue which was dressed in beautiful robes and flanked by gorgeous banks of flowers. The tronos were carried on long poles resting on the shoulders of several men and women. They were very heavy, and you could see the strain on the carriers faces every time they had to stop and lower the statue, and then raise it again. Many of them have to walk 'blind' as they are directly facing the base of the throne, and cannot see the path. One man walks on either side to ensure the throne remains level and stable, and he adjusts the steps of the carriers, or changes them around to ensure it stays even. They walk with a strange gait, stepping sideways and back again so the whole thing sort of sways from side to side. Each trono has a large metal knocker on it and one man bangs on this periodically to maintain the steady pace and to tell the carriers when to stop , lower or raise the trono, so they all work in unison. It is all very well orchestrated. We watched the three sections leave the church and pass us, accompanied by a very good band, who played very slow music in some places, and quite cheerful music in others. Then we walked down a side road and came out on the main road through the town where there were more people, so we waited there to see what else was going to happen. Soon after this, the procession came round the corner. At the square the first trono (bearing the virgin) stopped. Then the band played some lovely music and marched away up the road. Next the second trono came to the first one and they had a sort of 'face-off'. They turned so the two statues were facing each other. And then we were taken by surprise when the second one was lifted up and the carriers ran with it up the road. Everyone clapped and cheered and then they ran down again. Then they lifted it up really high for a few minutes and lowered it again. This was no mean feat considering the weight of them. They did this several times with the crowd getting more and more excited. Then the trono with the virgin on it was lifted and they ran up the hill with that, before they all disappeared round the corner. We heard the band again in the distance so we followed the sound and found the procession in a very narrow street and it had now been joined by the third trono again, (depicting the crucifixion). They all walked solemnly back to the church. It was a very strange, but moving celebration. I have no idea what the bit in the middle was all about. It seemed very bizarre, and not at all in keeping with the rest of a very serious occasion. It was almost as though each group was saying 'Look at us. We are the strongest. See what we can do!' We wondered if that is how it had started many years ago. A contest of prowess between the brotherhoods that gradually became adopted into the tradition. I certainly can think of no religious significance for it. There were a lot of people of all ages involved in the procession, but no-one else followed behind it like they had done on Maundy Thursday. This time the rest of the townsfolk, and the tourists, were spectators. I am enjoying finding out about the local traditions.
I am including a picture of each trono, but there will be more images on my gallery. It is hard to give much idea of what it was like in pictures, so I took some videos on my phone and I will try to add a couple below this. I hope you can manage to play them.

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