Folklore

Pinhole: Jesus and The Donkey

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In the wee hours of Palm Sunday, a crowd gathers in San Felipe, a small town just outside of La Antigua Guatemala, right after mass. They wait patiently for their procession to begin. This one’s different from the rest, though: instead of featuring massive Jesus-floats like the other brotherhoods, the people of this parish have live actors.

The procession begins when a man playing Judas announces it’s commencement. Then, a donkey-riding Jesus impersonation rides through the crowd as if he were entering the streets of Jerusalem. Some of the procession-goers carry palm leaves with them, emulating the people witnessing Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem according to the biblical story. The beat of a drum and a flute set the pace of the procession.

According to Joel Zuleta, who has been playing Judas for the past 20 years, the brotherhood has been changing the guy playing Jesus in the past three years. Before that, he points out, it used to be the same guy for a long time.

One of the highlights of this procession is that it walks almost three times as fast as a normal procession. It features no cucuruchos, and it makes its way from San Felipe and Jocotenango, another nearby town. The procession barely passes beside Antigua before its triumphant return to San Felipe.

A Jesus impersonator rides a donkey. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

Jesus passes through Jocotenango. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

Judas anounces the path of Jesus. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

A flutist anounces the way of the procession followed by faihtfuls holding palms.

The live procession greets onlookers. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

A palm arrangement, these will be used for the making of the Ash during ash wenesday in a year. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

The procession returns to San Felipe. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

Jesus salutes people inside a chicken bus. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

Live procession of San Felipe de Jesus. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

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