Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Blending Traditions


Sitting at a make-shift open-air temple in the Garrucha port last Friday afternoon, sweltering sun & sea breeze... the approaching sound of the town band following the small procession, parading the Lady of Carmen (Virgen del Carmen) through town... led by traditionally-dressed town-people of all ages, the children & ladies in front, all gripping a long fishing net... the men underneath the gold statue of Carmen... carrying her to the docks... 1 lucky fisherman taking the statue of Carmen out for a spin on the water, to the chants of the town “Viva la Virgen del Carmen!!!”... the procession finally delivering her to the crowded temple, now under the stars, and Mass beginning with an angelic voice singing “Ave Maria”, accompanied by live Spanish guitar and African drummers...

It had been quite a while since I had been to Mass but this one held me right to the end. We hadn’t intended to go... we were simply taking an afternoon stroll down to the port on Friday, which was a local holiday in Garrucha and in many fishing villages along the coast as the Saint Day of the Lady of Carmen, the patron Saint of the Fishers. We stumbled across the open-air temple and live music so we stayed. What struck me most about the wonderful ceremony was the integration of a Senegalese group of singers into the choir… I was blown away by the whole experience really. Celebrating mass under the stars to Spanish guitar blended with Senagalese African music with drums… a sign of today… even little Garrucha has opened its arms wide and is letting other traditions and cultures blend with its own...

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