Sunday, 24 April 2011

Holy Week Celebrations

Photo © Alvaro Barrientos-Courtesy Photoblog MSNBC

Photo © Alvaro Barrientos- Courtesy Denver Post

Holy Week in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter, and provides remarkable opportunities to photographers to capture the various religious festivals, rituals and pageants that are scheduled, particularly in Catholic communities, during the period. The week includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

Some of the featured rituals in Spain, Portugal and Italy include the processions of hooded flagellants during Lent, as well as self-crucifixion in the Philippines considered as a form of devout worship.

In the top photograph, a masked flagellant is comforted by a colleague at the end of his penance during the 'Los Picaos' brotherhood Good Friday procession in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, northern Spain. The second photograph is of a penitent dragging his chains at the same venue. Both photographs are by Alvaro Barrientos, and I think they're some of the best amongst featured by the various photo blogs.

Flagellation is not restricted to Catholicism, but is also practiced in other religious traditions, notably in Shi'a Islam during the Day of Ashura. Much older religious tradtions, like the cult of Isis in Egypt and the Dionysian cult of Greece, practiced their own forms of flagellation.

Apart from a Holy Week spent in Guatemala in 2002 photographing the processions, I haven't photographed Catholic religious traditions (except for a short photo shoot at a small festival in Oaxaca), and I ought to plan for 2012.

Of course, it depends if the 21st of May doesn't turn out to be the end of the world as a demented US preacher predicts....then I (and the majority of us) would've missed the chance.

But something tells me we needn't worry.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it!