Friday, July 17, 2009


Palm Sunday is a day for the expression of joy: Jesus was being declared King as he entered Jerusalem. Not until Easter Sunday and the celebration of the resurrection is there such joy. People are happy, smiling and glad to be with their neighbors. When the congregation enters the church people wave their palms and shout “Christ is King”. Things appeared to be quite different in Tingambato.

Upon arrival we saw people rushing to get into the procession so followed along to capture the procession. Everyone carried beautiful palms: tall, intricately woven and laced with flowers to give a stunning appearance. Although there were easily 400 people in the procession, there was no sense of joy. The only music was an accordion following Jesus, his disciples and the local priest, and it was playing a dirge. People were not smiling, which is unusual, and they appeared to want to get it over with.

As an outsider there was no way to figure out what was going on but a friend asked where he could purchase a palm since there was no appearance of local makers on the streets. One could not purchase a palm as they had been distributed by the government! Is there a connection between this gift and the lack of joy? Did people need to be encouraged to attend? Was the priest struggling to fill the church? This day was also the opening of the annual geranium festival so perhaps organizers wanted an impressive event for visitors!

Whatever the explanation, the event left me puzzled.

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