Thursday, January 15, 2004

La Divina Pastora

To leave you on a good note until I can get back to post sometime this week end.

Today was the day of La Pastora, one of the many Virgin Mary cults in Venezuela, and as one can see from today maybe the main one!

Venezuela has many forms of devotion to the Virgin Mary, from its patroness, La Virgen de Coromoto, to local ones. But there are three that are particularly important, La Chiquinquira in Maracaibo, La Virgen del Valle in Margarita an La Pastora in Barquisimeto, which is the one for Yaracuy by association.

Today it was her day in Barquisimeto and plenty of people from across the country go to Barquisimeto to hang out in the streets for the longest procession in Venezuela. La Divina Pastora (the Divine Shepherdess) is a wood carving delicately painted, dressed like some bucolic shepherdess who is supposed to herd us to the redemption of her child, sitting on her lap. Her appeal might come in part from her image, a little bit like the native population of the area. The venerable image dating from the XVIII century goes out of her church on January 14 for a month of visits to the few chosen churches of Barquisimeto. That day people throng the streets for her first outing. More processions will take place during the month but more of the local nature. On January 14 all business stops in Barquisimeto and surrounding area.

Today, for her outing 148, it was beautiful, crisp and cool. TV images were great all through the day. And all records for street attendance, marches, rallies and what not might have been broken. Some TV mentioned more than one million marchers.

The day might have helped the amazing turnout, but the crisis and the desecrations of December in Altamira surely have something to do with the people going out en masse to find some hope.

I wish to thank the great folks at Blogger that kindly gave me a courtesy promotion to allow me to put up pictures of Venezuela on occasion. They understood that due to currency exchange control I cannot use Credit Cards for payment in the US. They are still not set up to re-open their paid plans but they allowed me to join anyway until they get back with their normal plans and I can pay for them. Let's say that I am a beta member ;-) This is the first one, to try the feature out.

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