Good Friday popularly observed in Benque Viejo del Carmen Print E-mail
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Thursday, 24 April 2014 00:00

Observations of Good Friday in Benque Viejo del Carmen is normally a family event but this last Friday it took a special fervor with the solemn recollection of what happened to Jesus some 2000 years ago. Benque Viejo del Carmen gives at every turn of its streets and bye-ways expression that it is a tightly knit Town where the Roman Catholic Church traditions are popularly upheld.

The early morning of last Friday started in earnest with numerous volunteers from the community and members of the ‘Via Real Sangre de Cristo’ Group spraying water on the main asphalt tributaries in Benque in preparation of a form of art that requires dedication and patience. With numerous sacks of sawdust and a variety of paints at the ready, the groups gather to form complex designs of colored sawdust on the main ways; with no sign of vehicular traffic for miles around.

Main organizer of the ‘Via Real Sangre Group’, Josephina Salas says that she first started the sawdust tapestries efforts in Benque in 2001. She says that today there are many volunteers taking on the tradition of decorating Benque’s streets but she says that she will be handing over the tapestry works to the local Benque House of Culture next year. For this year, members of the Benque House of Culture were already doing their own saw dust designs on Benque’s roads.

The first order of the day last Friday in Benque was that by 10:00 am a Passion Play was well underway at a private home on the main boulevard. Begun since 1992, the Passion Play brings out actors, who fluently engage in dialogue to describe the events leading to Jesus Christ’s Crucifixion and they do so for extended periods and without referring to hand held scripts. The scene was perfectly done involving Pontius Pilate and Jesus Christ, who this year was portrayed by University of Belize student Luis Blas Mendez Jr. As the scenes progressed, Pontius Pilate or the likes of him washed his hands in a basin as if to erase his guilt on the events that would define Christianity for centuries.

The person playing the part of Jesus Christ and a wooden cross were then taken through various main streets in Benque Viejo with the Priest describing the events at each stage. To depict the scenes in the Passion as taken from the Bible, there were the likenesses of Roman Soldiers following closely by in the large crowds of Benquenos.

At the center of those fleeting moments of beautifully laid sawdust tapestries and Passion play is the towering Roman Catholic Church, which is easily accessed by local residents. By late evening, fully dressed faithful exited from the yard of this building carrying on their shoulder a powerful symbol of Jesus on his resting place, to be carried along the sawdust tapestries that had been prepared earlier in the morning.

 “…extremely profound, it brings home the reality of the sacrifice that Jesus had made for us, when he died on the cross,” says Margaret Ventura from the Economic Partnership Agreement in the Ministry of Trade, who was along with her nephew  to enjoy the program of events in Benque last Friday.