Holistic in Paella land

Procession of the Nazarenos

While embarking on that next destination, which in our case was Andalucía, Spain, it is important to remember that overindulgence in travel tips may sometimes lead to Enocidal crunches (digestive diarrhoea).

Here was one such offcut gem strewn at us: Remember “ If bathroom genders are indicated by flamingos, the boy flamingo is the one with a hat”; I went almost batty eyed trying to locate one of these creatures with or without a hat, or “You can knock anyone down in Spain and then just pretend there are a bunch of bulls chasing you”; in our case we were hit by a speeding car at a stop sign in Seville; typically so, I behaved like the one being chased by bulls, although in all fairness, instead of being a spine chilling experience for us, it was more of a hair raising one for the lad who was in the first throes of this romance in his new-old car.  

Passion of the Christ

Just as no guide books told us about the cautionary overuse of Hola as a greeting, regardless of time, exuberance and its suggestive appropriateness, everyone told us about the Seville oranges, and yet no one, to curb that bouncy frolicsome tendency to pluck some off the road, just as we thought no-one was watching, only to discover the joys of a very bitter truth. 

Float combs the streets of Granada

Our decision to visit Andalucía, Spain during the Semana Santa holy week, was born not from Lonely Planet Spain, but a rather random sequence of events that decided to converge. The week before Easter, the streets of Andalucía reverberate with the penance processions, a unique ritual that have their origin somewhere in the Middle ages. This holy week witnesses a rush of tourists who flock to witness and be part of a grand, reflective, somewhat pensive and a mesmerizing ritual.

A float in Malaga depicting scenes from the Bible

Crowded times ought to call for sensible measures: technology such as google maps and a bit of a feathery light suitcase can take one far, during these times of festivities, through the maze like cobble streets teeming with brotherhoods and fraternities. The distance between the approved car park and the hotel could often be a more distant reality than with a partner of more than seven years.

Float combs the streets of Granada

As dusk approached in Granada and the imposing Alhambra loomed in the background, a colourful, solemn, ritual was unfolding its dramatic wings.

And then the drums rolled, as the Marching bands went past in their regalia performing “Marchas procesionales” a type of composition devoted to the fraternities, followed by the most eerie looking Nazarenos in their penitential robes.

Time decided to take its stand somewhere in the middle ages,  as the somber procession of the Nazarenos (penitants) commenced, Ku Klux Klan like in their traditional tunic, hoods (capirote) concealing the face of the wearer and a cloak whose colour reflect the particular fraternity, carrying candles, or old hewn wooden crosses. 

Finally at the rear came the  magnificent floats or “Pasos” depicting scenes of the gospel related to the passion of Christ or the sorrows of Virgin Mary.

Elaborately decorative, many of these floats were created by Spanish artists and have been preserved for centuries.  The floats were borne on the shoulders of hundreds of “portapasos” (or float-carriers), who marched to the rhythmic beat of the drums. Time stood still, we stood rapturous, as procession after procession followed each of a different flavor, each had a story to tell.

It reminded me of the Durga immersion in Bengal, and though from a geographically different region and flavor altogether, we felt as though we were joined in the same spirit of piety and festivity, timeless and spaceless.

Majestic Alhambra in Granada

My fervent prayer to spot Antonio or Javier was not quite graciously answered, although in Malaga, almost everyone carrying the float looked like a someone from any ramp and local news did convey that Mr. Banderas was indeed a float bearer. Well such are stuff which dreams are made of, however those surely were not mine.

  • Written byLalee Chatterjee

    Lalee Chatterjee defines herself as an inexhaustible bundle of enigma. Travel for her is like an itchy bug that forever itches her world weary mind, until she finds herself on a journey, to pause, then to start again. And reading this, if you thought she is a vagabond, well you were not entirely mistaken: at heart she is. Based out of Johannesburg, South Africa, she earns her living in the mineral commodity sector.



    Comment: Beautiful Narration & gorgeous photography! Jotting this down on my bucket list.



    Comment: What a fascinating festival and procession. Its wonderful that these traditions are maintained every year - thanks for publicising it to a wider audience!



    Comment: Well I am not surprised... such a well written travelogue could only be written by Lalee... Granada has come alive in her writing and continues to live on vividly in our minds even after we have finished reading!!! Excellent piece!! Will wait for more of these....


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