World’s largest Easter celebrations in a quaint colonial city – isn’t that hard to resist? The Spanish missionary bought the Easter celebrations to Guatemala in the 16th century, and Antigua continues to carry forward the Andalusian tradition of celebrating the resurrection of Christ in style. Easter in Guatemala attracts a lot of visitors annually to Antigua as well as other parts of this beautiful country.
” The quaint cobbled streets of Antigua, Guatemala”
I timed my visit to Guatemala during the Easter week, to photograph the vivid celebrations. Known as Semana Santa in Spanish, the Easter week is considered holy and commemorates the Passion, the Crucifix, and the Resurrection of Jesus. The Mayan influences come together beautifully with Catholicism to create a mystical and spiritual environment.
There are various processions throughout the week, with Friday being the peak of it. The procession consists of multiple ‘floats’, carrying a statue of Jesus or Virgin Mary, with each float requiring many hands to lift up. The procession consists of many men and women carrying these floats, moving slowly through the carpet-adorned streets. The carpets are often so elaborately designed using saw-dust, flowers, dyes, fruits etc. that they are nothing short of artwork.
“Children, dressed in black, move along with a procession through Antigua”
“Participants share a light moment during a Semana Santa procession”
“A procession unfolding on the streets of Antigua”
Large celebrations take place in Guatemala city and Chichicastenango as well. However, each little village has it’s own way of celebrating Semana Santa and I was quite keen to check out a more intimate setting. Hence, I rented a motorbike and drove from Antigua to San Juan, a tiny hamlet on the shores of Lago Atitlan. I arrived in the evening, and checked-in with a local family and they essentially pointed me to the local church. Seeing the village get ready for the procession: the floats getting decorated, girls lighting candles, musicians rehearsing their bits – it was definitely a very intimate setting, and I felt instantly welcomed.
“The San Juan procession getting ready to leave the premises of the church”
” Residents of San Juan during a procession passing through the narrow alleys of the hamlet”
“The procession ends back at the church after a couple of hours”