In our town, Estepa in the Province of Sevilla, as in many towns throughout Spain, the processions start on Palm Sunday. The various 'floats' are carried by 'Brotherhoods' through the streets of the town and the 'worshippers' follow along behind the procession. Different days 'belong' to different Brotherhoods and each Brotherhood wears a different coloured pointed hood and cloak, which often displays their 'coat of arms' plus a floor length tunic. The floats are heavy and can be carried by hundreds of men on their shoulders and in most cases they are unable to see ahead and are therefore guided by someone who walks in front. These men and the others, both male, female and children, who follow behind, are called Penitents, or Nazarenos. I understand that the Penitents represent the followers of Jesus, but it's not really clear why their heads are covered. I did read that it dates back to the Inquisition when the heads of the accused were covered with a sack. It is also not unusual to see the Penitents marching barefoot....as an additional atonement for their sins.
Each procession takes approx 5 hours depending on the route. Because of the weight of the floats they go at a very slow pace. A person at the front walks along with a long pole which is used to push the electrical cables up above the height of the statues on the float!!
My favourite of all the processions is that which takes place on Monday night. This is the Monday before Easter and not Easter Monday as it is known in the UK, which isn't a holiday here at all. The Lunes Santo (Holy Monday) procession leaves the church of Santa Ana at 10pm and is referred to as a 'silent' procession. Although the participants must not speak, in fact it is not totally silent as there is the steady beat from a lone drummer...I find it very moving. It actually passes our front door at about 1.30am and it is amazing to watch several hundred Penitents passing by, many of them carrying very large heavy wooden crosses as an extra burden for their sins.
This photo was taken as the 'float' left the church. The statues represent Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as she craddles her son in her arms.....
The following photos were not taken by me, but they give a much better idea of the Lunes Santo (Holy Monday) procession in our town: You can see the guys in front with the 'hooked' poles, these are used for lifting the electrical cables up above the statues as they pass....as mentioned above.
Next time I will show some photos of the Penitents and one of the daylight processions.