July 27, 2011

B is for Black

Each January 9, the city of Manila holds a procession in honor of the Black Nazarene, locally known as Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno. 

The Black Nazarene is a dark hardwood statue of Jesus that was carved in Mexico by an Aztec carpenter and brought to the Philippines in the 18th century. The story goes that the wood statue was blackened in transit by a fire on the ship. The statue, believed to confer miracles, is kept in the Quiapo Church.

For the procession, male devotees in bare feet and dressed in maroon pull the Black Nazarene through the streets on a gilded carriage. Followers seek to catch a glimpse, if not touch, the statue in hopes of being healed, being cleansed of their sins, or receiving another kind of miracle.

Devotees from all over the Philippines come to participate in the Fiesta of the Black Nazarene. They bring banners from their neighborhood, association or whatever group they attend with, as well as their own versions of the statue on platforms carried on shoulders. Believers throw towels or handkerchiefs to the people, mostly children, guarding the statue and ask them to rub the cloth on the statue in order to receive its blessings.

This year, the crowd was estimated at 7-8 million, the largest ever, partly perhaps because it fell on a Sunday, and  the procession from beginning to end went from 7:30 am to midnight.  I joined the fiesta with a friend for a couple of hours in the morning. These are a few of my images [click to enlarge] to tell the story.

Manila, 2011

The final photo shows the real Black Nazarene statue.

This is linked to ABC Wednesday where the letter of the week is B.

34 comments:

fredamans said...

Interesting tradition and culture.

http://fredamans.blogspot.com/2011/07/abc-wednesday-b-is-for-brother-sad-post.html

Roger Owen Green said...

This is fascinating stuff.
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Rajesh said...

Interesting information and wonderful shots.

Carola said...

Wonderful photos and information to tell the story. Must have been exciting to be there.

Sylvia K said...

Fascinating it is, Francisca! What a marvelous, interesting post for the B Day! Your photos are wonderful and so colorful! The next best thing to being there myself! Thank you for the history/information, makes the photos even more beautiful! Hope your week is going well!

Sylvia

Kate said...

A wonderful set of photos to educate your viewers. Religious traditions and holidays in many countries are colourful and dare I say it...entertaining for the onlookers--in the best sense of the word.

Kay L. Davies said...

I've heard of the Statue of the Black Nazarene before, Francisca, but never imagined that many people in a crowd to see it. 7-8 million people is a staggering number.
Bravo to you and your friend for braving the crowd to get these beautiful photos.

—Kay, Alberta, Canada

Leslie: said...

Brilliant post - fascinating!

Leslie
abcw team

Kim, USA said...

Oh yes that is so true. And those feet photo you take that is awesome love it!

Blue

Wanda said...

What a festive celebration...Love seeing all the children, and all the wonderful colors..

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

So colorful -- and everybody seems to be so happy to be doing their part. At first it reminded me of the Good Friday processions we saw in Mexico, but it was (I guess obviously) not a joyful occasion.

photowannabe said...

Its fascinatng to learn the traditions of other cultures. that a super lot of people.
Wonderful colorful photos.

cieldequimper said...

Both fascinating and frightening I think.

Ann said...

such a fascinating celebration.

Shooting Parrots said...

The procession must have been the most amazing sight. How on earth did you get close with so many people in the way?

EG Wow said...

I cannot imagine a procession that lasts 16 hours! Or a gathering with that many people!

Elisa said...

My dear Francisca,
Your pictures are great, the children are cute!
Have a nice day
Elisa, from Argentina

VioletSky said...

I've often wondered what it would be like to live in a place that had such intense traditions. We just never see anything like that here. Then again, I hate crowds, so being here is just fine. But it is fascinating to read about such things.

Halcyon said...

Nice shots of this festival!

David Murphy said...

Great photos Cisca, Glad to know that moving isn't taking up ALL your time. Any idea of how many casualties/fatalities there were this year?

Francisca said...

David, I was quite impressed by the number of first aid stations I saw along the way. I read that there were reports of injuries, but no reported deaths or reports of crimes. That's amazing for a moving crowd this size. As for moving house, it is taking most of my day, but you know how hot and humid it is right now in Manila, I need down time. :-)

Elisa said...

Francisca!
I can´t find the blog of James and his Weekend Reflections.
What happened?

Kaori said...

Oh wow, that is a LOT of people! The statue must have a very deep meaning for these people. Love the last shot where you caught some people trying to reach for the statue. And the children are as cute as ever :-D

jabblog said...

Those little children look very serious about their task - so sweet:-)

jeng said...

I'm a Catholic and I'm from Manila but I have never been to the Feast of the Black Nazarene because I'm scared to be crushed by all of those people who wanted to get a hold of the image. Your portrayal of this tradition is fascinating.

jennyfreckles said...

7-8 MILLION people! That's hard to imagine and makes your photos even more brilliant. A very interesting post, thanks.

And yes, you read right, I did have a break but only a couple of weeks just to catch up with myself. I wasn't doing anything major like moving house. Hope all is going well for you.

Oakland Daily Photo said...

Incredible post. I had no idea of this feast day. Have you noticed how black icons are particularly venerated. I've seen them in Mexico, Spain, Poland and even Carmel. Perhaps because each has its particularly compelling story.

James said...

Hi Francisca. I love the way you captured this interesting event. I've heard of it but never witnessed it.

P.S.
Thanks for letting me know that Weekend Reflections was gone. I changed the URL without thinking of the consequences.

I posted my new URL and I also gave it to Elisa. The new web address is below.

http://weekendreflection.blogspot.com/

JM said...

The feet shot is a winner. Fantastic!

Dina said...

So many people! Your pictures are very moving.

Evelyn said...

The kids look like they have the most fun. Barefeet - ouch!

Pat Tillett said...

Wow! What a story! The photos and words are excellent and worthy of publishing! Very nice... I love learning new things.

'Tsuki said...

Very interesting custom... Thanks for sharing this your words and your beautiful pictures this rare moment.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

A fascinating story and the kind of cultural event I would love to watch. Thank you for linking it on your newer post. We've had slow computer connections (hopefully well now) for a shile and I missed this.