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Beyond Words - Issue #9 Easter Monday in Seville

Beyond Words - Issue #9 Easter Monday in Seville
By Nandini Chakraborty • Issue #9 • View online
The Semana Santa procession for La Macarena in Seville is a sight to experience, not only for the grandeur, music, colour and atmosphere, but this is local culture at its best.
Happy Easter Monday everyone.

La Macarena, Seville
La Macarena, Seville
The swell of a thousand murmurs froze into a peak of pregnant silence, poised for moments, before descending on the night with a shimmering curtain of ‘Olé’s. Heavy cathedral doors swung back to a release a mix of incense, music and candles that seemed to float in the air, stoking the electric anticipation on the doorstep. The crowd, possessively positioned on vantage points, turned as one to greet the queen of the moment- the Virgin of La Macarena.
It was Semana Santa week in Andalucia. The build up to Easter Monday had been disappointingly rainy, cancelling a number of processions which would have seen richly decorated pasos, laden with gilded statues in tableaus of Biblical scenes. Late on Thursday evening, we had taken to the cobbled paths which opened on to the Macarena quarter of Seville. The crowds near the cathedral of La Macarena held the determination of an army, fixed on winning this battle, as if they would push back the clouds with sheer will power. Locals had settled in close-knit groups with an air of well-prepared long wait about them. The chairless were being tempted by vendors selling foldable chairs for ten euros each!  
We decided to claim a corner of the pavement, as near to the cathedral doors as the already conquered territory would allow and delved into paper bags of takeaway cod roe and indulgent chips to kill the three hours to midnight.
The build-up started at a quarter to midnight. A group of musicians dressed as Roman soldiers marched through the crowds, encouraged along by Olé’s, up to the dark doors of the cathedral. Scores of the religious brotherhood, dressed in black capes and pointed caps, disappeared shadowlike into the courtyard.
The first paso appeared at midnight, a scene of Christ entering Jerusalem. It glided, hardly giving away the laboured footsteps which carried it. It stopped for a couple of minutes to accept the offering of a Flamenco song, a single voice which cut through the multitude of excited chattering, claiming the arena for her own. Then the paso continued its journey, passing by the masses which lined its route in several layers and cheered.
Following the paso, came the brotherhood, musicians dressed as Roman soldiers, gilded crosses and embroidered banners. After an hour and a half, the doors of the cathedral closed, a pause leading up to the highest point of the Madrugada procession.
And then-the doors re-opened to reveal a hint of gold from the inner sanctuary. Slowly the shimmer materialized into the seventeenth century statue of the Virgin, tears on her burnished cheeks, gown crusted with emeralds.
A hush fell on the crowd as the paso crossed the threshold of the cathedral to take its first position at the indication of the llamador’s thump. I waited with the crowd, holding my breath for the next step.
The flamenco singer merged our emotions with hers when she started singing again, for the Virgin and her Son.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Nandini Chakraborty

Stories from travel. There is nothing that teaches us more than human interaction, culture, and history. Travel breaks misconceptions, challenges assumptions and teaches us the true worth of this world of ours.

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