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Semana Santa Processions in Comayagua Honduras

March 1st 2009 04:33
Semana Santa is Easter Week in Honduras, a country where the majority of the population are identified as Catholics. In Comayagua, Honduras, you can see one of the most detailed and impressive Processions on Good Friday of Semana Santa or Holy Week.

Sawdust Carpets, Carpetas de Aserrin Comayagua
Sawdust carpets in Comayagua, Honduras

It is Friday right? Comayagua is usually a sleepy little burgh, best known for its history (yawn) and Catholic relics. It has several excrutiatingly thorough displays of religion and history, in the form of Museums and Cathedrals. One might almost say too many for a town of this size.

Luckily, there is also a US Military base in Comayagua, the only one in Central America, so the creepiness factor is complete and fulfilling. A religious Military town. Deeply historic.

On Semana Santa, the Holy Week (Easter), Comayaguas pious religious throes become so fervored that they produce a festive atmosphere that draws artisans from throughout Central America to produce Sawdust Carpets on the streets, in preparation for the Procession of Christ in the 12 Stations of the Cross (it's 12 right?).

Sawdust Carpets in Comayagua, Honduras
Easter Procession in Comaygua, Honduras

Some of the detailed carpets are made by local families who have participated for many generations. Other carpets are sponsored by local banks and businesses, who hire artists for the event. There are many specialist who create this art all over Central America for this same date, often from Guatemala.

Each carpet takes more than 12 hours to create. While some artists are sketching the design, other artists and volunteers are spreading the brightly colored sawdust in the tapestry patterns.

Other team members walk around with a sprayer full of water to dampen the sawdust. This keeps it from blowing away and fuzzing up the designs.
The Virgin of Guadelupe in Sawdust Carpet, Comaygua
Our Lady of Guadelupe in a Sawdust Carpet, Comaygua Honduras

There are hundreds of assigned spots on a parade route that goes through the city. Then, at the appointed time, a giant procession of local Catholics walk along the parade route while a Priest reads the stations of the cross. My favorite station is Jesus falls the Second Time, don't really know why.

Statue of Jesus being carried in Easter Processions
Jesus parade

Afterward there is nothing left except a mashed up pile of rainbow sawdust. It is truly eerie to see all that work get milled about under the Priest's feet and Jesus with his crown of thorns and everything. There are women who walk along dressed in black, and more Catholic clergy than you can shake an incense burner at.

Luckily it is a pretty light-hearted celebration overall, with lots of artist from out of town, plenty of money being dropped by tourists, and a jolly assortment of vendors, and food stands. Comayagua is just big enough to provide some services as well, like stores for batteries and sodas, and a gas station for getting the hell out of town. Or you could stop and have a look at the Air Force fighters and helicopters.

All photos 2002, 2008

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