Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

Total Pageviews

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Los Pasos de Mojácar

Los Pasos part 1

On Good Friday, my wife and I followed the cross in Mojácar pueblo. It was not something I wanted to do for religious reasons; I am an atheist, but because I am a Mojáquero. I wanted to take part in a ritual that means so much to my fellow townsmen and women and to witness at first hand a mass phenomenen taking place throughout Spain. We waited outside the church of Santa Maria, watching the band and excited young choristers congregate. Then there were the men in black suits; some of them wore sunglasses, against the bright sun, giving them an air of the mafiosi. They were the Costaleros, the 'andas' bearers, men I surmised who were members of old Mojácar families and Cofradias, the brotherhoods, who had performed this duty as an honour for many years. They greeted one another like long lost brothers, happy at the prospect but nervous too, knowing that it was no mean feat to carry the heavy 'andas' for an hour and a half along the narrow and hilly Mojácar streets. The overriding impression I had of the occasion was one of pride. Whatever part they had to play, they wouldn't have been wanting to do anything else in the world at that time. For all the participants they were doing it for their families, for their community and for Mojácar.

Just how much Semana Santa means to the townspeople became apparent to me soon after the two 'parihuelas'or 'andas' reunited at the Plaza 'El Caño'. They had followed seperate routes after leaving the church and now together, climbed away from the plaza along La Guardia. We passed a narrow set of stairs leading to a small terrace below. Through the open doors at the street level we could see an elderly lady, seated on a chair, still in her dressing down, sobbing inconsolably and being comforted by another, possibly her daughter. Why was she sobbing? God knows, but if I had to hazard a guess it would be that after watching the passing of Christ and the Virgin, having heard the choir sing she had again witnessed the reaffirmation of her God's love. In the tradition of 'los Pasos' she relived, as she'd done all her life, the story of Christ's sacrifice to save mankind; an enduring belief that no matter what life had thrown at her and her family, and at times for everyone it can be desperately tough, she was safe in the embrace of God's Grace. She was not sobbing out of pain or unhappiness; she was sobbing, emotion gripping her body, in undiluted joy.
I further surmised that her relationship with her Church was uncomplicated, her almost slavish devotion precluding any questions. That Catholic priests around the world were regularly abusing children or that thousands of innocents were being slaughtered in natural disasters like Haiti, were matters for earthly men; not for her heavenly Father.
Now as she approached the end of her life's journey, she would soon meet her God and be at eternal peace. In some ways I envied her faith; after all, it's an attractive proposition that billions of people have subscribed to over two thousand years, inspiring man to create masterpieces from huge and spectacular cathedrals to works of amazing art and truly breathtaking choral pieces.
I will confess that after seeing this lady, I too was moved by her emotion and indeed, the whole occasion, unable to speak for several moments as I tried to control my own feelings. Even atheists can have a spiritual side.

Los Pasos part 2

An exerpt taken from a work by P Pérez Fernández, called 'El Alma de Sevilla'. The spirit of Seville.

Finally the day had arrived; the day he'd been waiting for for as long as could remember. Don Francisco had his heart's desire to walk, with his cross, at the head of his Sevillian Cofradia, the brotherhood, 'penitentiale' that accompanied Christ on his final, cross bearing walk, known as,'los Pasos'. It was the culmination of his life's work in the Cofradia; the final acolade his brothers could bestow on him. As the parade formed his face was flushed with pride as he took his place, with don Curro, another man chosen to bear their crosses of gold painted wood.
Ahead of him lay the route which took the procession past the assembled dignatories of the City, the President and various Counts and Marqueses sat in their especially constructed boxes. In his mind he rehearsed the steps he would take when he reached the Plaza San Francisco. Turning elegantly on his heels he would turn to the President's party on the dais, incline his body and ever so slightly dip the cross on his shoulder, before standing erect and continuing through the Plaza, acknowledging the adoring, almost amorous adulation of the beautiful Ladies.

Don Cullo had spent the morning toasting the forthcoming event and co-incidentally fortifying his spirit in several bars, so that by the time of the procession he was already far worse for drink than don Francisco would have liked. They had hardly moved when don Cullo complained that his cross felt like lead and his face was covered with sweat. At last they reached the entrance to the Plaza and don Francisco could see ahead how beautifully it had been decorated and how clean everything was.
"Careful, Cullo," he murmered to his flagging companion, "Careful! You'll make a fool of yourself if you're not careful."
"You be careful, too," he replied, indignant at don Francisco's insinuation.
"It seems to me that when you turn, you'll fall down," argued don Francisco, quietly, now certain that don Cullo was drunk.
"Walk slowly and they may not notice that you do not turn to face them on the platform," whispered don Francisco fearing that his big day was about to be ruined.
Don Cullo, shortened his step and slowed his pace, sweating profusely. He could already hear the laughter and chuckling of the contessas and marchionesses and the President was on his feet, ready to return the salute.
"I will not turn. I will not turn," he told himself.
As he arrived opposite the President of the Most Excellent Government of the town, he stopped, paused and did a half turn before the cross slipped from his shoulder to the ground. Without pausing, he carried on walking and shouted: "God be with you, Gentlemen!" his broad Andalucian dialect resounding through the Plaza.

This extract was taken from a compilation of Spanish works by MB Shaw; translated and adapted by myself.

To view the article in click on the link below:-

Kevill Davies is author of 'Apsaras'. Available at most on line book shops.

NOW available. Signed copies of 'Apsaras' for purchase at ROHHA Lifestyle, Mojácar Playa.

Read more on his Indaloblog at

No comments:

Post a Comment