Domingo de Ramos or Palm Sunday, is one of the significant days of the Semana Santa that marks the start of the Holy Week. It is a reenactment of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem when he was received by the people, waving palms while he was riding a donkey. And I witnessed this in Lucban, Quezon.
This is part of my Semana Santa series where I feature rituals and traditions observed in certain places during this solemn week in the Catholic calendar. Click on the image at the right to check the rest of the articles.
Palm Sunday, or in my vernacular, Cebuano, bindita sa lukay (blessing of the palms) has always been experienced with the usual Sunday mass in my native hometown of Talisay. Here, fronds of coconut palms are formed into rudimentary crosses and other forms but simple. When the activity starts, the priest just enters the church and blesses the palms. When I came to Lucban, I never expected that it will be grand. Different.
Like in most churches around the country, vendors are already staking their claim at the sidewalk where the palaspas are laid out (above). Or, like in Tayabas, a vendor plying her unblessed palms near the gate entrance. But one thing is sure, when it comes to the various designs, these are visual treats that attests to the Filipinos’s art and artistry.
When I arrived at the church, I never expected that there will be a carroza (carriage) that will be used. In some churches, its the priest who will ride a horse or in my town, none at all. This is owned by the family of my friend Paugio, and it shows an image of Christ riding a donkey lushfully decorated with palaspas.
The speakers started to sound as the priest began the blessing with a prayer. The crowds hushed. The familiar smell of incense filled the square as it was offered by the sacristan. Just as the priest started to bless the palms, the sea of palaspas began to move frantically as the faithful shook these.
Just as the priest started his descent and walked towards the church, he was followed by his apostles and the incense bearing sacristans. Elderly women, called by townsfolk banal na mga babae, literally, holy women lay their tapis, wrap skirt, or some used their shawl along the pathway for the priest to walk on.
They kneel down and some try to kiss the stole of the priest and when he passes, they quickly grab the black cloth and race to the front to lay it down again. Even 80 year old ladies still do this one. The last to enter is the carroza with the image of the Christ, simulating his entry to Jerusalem on a donkey. This is then followed by the Sunday mass.