A procession with three altars make its way through the streets of Benque.
A procession with three altars make its way through the streets of Benque.

On Friday April 22nd Christians from across Belize and the world for that matter, began the observation of Easter; where time is taken out to acknowledge the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Itís perhaps the most important observation in the Christian calendar and while many take a short time to acknowledge the central Christian event, the same cannot be said for those devout Christians in the western town of Benque Viejo Del Carmen.

People in that town take the observation to a whole different level, completely immersing themselves in the Easter activities. And those observations have nothing to do with eggs and bunnies and everything to do with the reason for the celebration. From early on Friday morning the observation begins where there is a dramatic re-enactment of the Passion of the Christ. By the time evening comes the major streets of the town are brightly decorated with mosaic-like artistic creations made out of colored sawdust. Residents of the town come out and participate in creating elaborate sawdust mats on the principal streets where the procession is to pass. The mats are made of brightly colored sawdust depicting various religious symbols. Itís a time consuming process where stencils are used and media such as beans and rice are also employed to convey various religious messages.

Itís a practice that is quickly becoming tradition in Benque where various institutions including schools and other organizations depict their view of Easter. More significant in Benque is the level of commitment that the residents have taken in the creation of the mats where even families, including children come out to have their creations decorating the streets.

By the time the final mat is completed the procession takes off. Hundreds of residents of the town and even visitors partake in the carrying of three altars. The first contains an effigy of Jesus Christ being carried by as many as 20 young men through the principal streets of the town. The larger is followed by two other alters, these are carried by women. Itís a major attraction in the town and is a true observation of the crucifixion of Christ.

The Guardian would like to thank Mayor Nicholas Ruiz and the Benque town council for their assistance in covering this yearís activities in Benque.

The Guardian