I’m not a religious man in the context of following a Church doctrine or deity, the interpretation of this does not mean that I don’t have religious thoughts. The concept of atheism is a difficult one for me to comprehend as this is a statement of absolute and is a bedfellow of fundamentalism. The following of an agnostic path is to me a much more logical direction, ‘the only thing I know is I know nothing’ Socrates. Man’s interpretation of the teachings of some of the towering figures of religious history. Mohammed, Christ, Abraham, the Hindu teacher Shankara and even the Buddhas I believe would horrify the creators of those great religions. Much criminality and suffering has been perpetuated in the name of religion. The quest for some form of understanding is far more important than some vague and misguided belief that one has omnipotent knowledge, however sometimes from man’s muddled and myopic thinking comes something beautiful, the music of a Latin Mass,
The Sacred Geometry of Islam, The great paintings of the world, The Last Supper – Leonardo da Vinci, The creation of Adam – Michelangelo, Madonna del Prato or Madonna of the Meadow – Raphael, The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist – Caravaggio not to mention the great temple sculptures of the East, the great fiestas of the Catholic world Semana Santa Spain. I have to admit these creations give a fabric and synergy to society that today much of the world lacks with out these creations the world would be a boring and barren place indeed. The disillusionment especially in the ranks of the youth of the world is giving rise to a self driven and violent society with an inability to see any beauty we are building the blind society.
It was attending Holy week or Semana Santa Malaga that confirmed to me the importance of maintaining these great festivals and protecting the great artistic legacy that religious belief of most persuasions has bestowed upon us. The realisation of the contribution that has been bequeathed to us by the great religions of the world is part of growing up and becoming an understanding member of society.
Semana Santa (Easter Week) Spain’s greatest festival and most important week of the year. A celebration of piety expressed almost exclusively in the processions of the brotherhoods or fraternities. Associations that have their origins in the Middle Ages, however a number were created during the Baroque Period, inspired by the Counter-Reformation ( Catholic Revival) commencing from the time of the ‘Council of Trent’ 1545 – 1563 finishing at the end of the ‘Thirty Years War’ 1648 and also during the 20th and 21st centuries. Membership of the brotherhoods is usually open to any Catholic person; family tradition is an important element to becoming a member or “brother” (hermano). The family the importance of being a part of something greater than you. The family can be seen in the important participation of Children and how they are welcomed into the festivities. The family group is an institution that we seem to be losing in most western countries to the detriment of our society.
One of the most striking spectacles of the festival are the hundreds of slow-moving Nazarenos (based on the people of Nazareth) in their tall, pointy hats and matching robes with their faces completely covered, apart from their eyes. Reasons for the use of such costumes have long been lost in antiquity however the purpose is simple , the Nazarenos their faces are covered in mourning and also as a sign of shame for the sins they have committed throughout the year. It is not uncommon for prisoners to participate as pallbearers participating in the carrying of the huge Thrones of the crucified Christ and the mourning Virgin Mary in order to repent of their sins.
There are 168 to 280 men and sometimes women who carry the thrones on their shoulders. Each man must be able to carry 40 Kilos on his shoulders for hours they tend to march for a longer period than women. The processions culminates on Easter Sunday in a long procession from the cathedral or church with the meeting of the effigies of the mourning Virgin and the resurrected Christ. Truly an artistic and spectacular fiesta that gives Spain its character and synergy. .
Images of the great Spanish fiesta Semana Santa
Photographer Shane Aurousseau