I thought the day began at 5:30 a.m. with a massively loud fusillade of fireworks from the Parroquia de San Antonio grounds, about a block away from my home in Colonia San Antonio. That’s what sent me upright in my bed and nearly over the side.
The explosions kept up every 10 minutes or so for the next couple of hours.
My friend Bob Cooksey, who lives directly across the street from the church, says the celebration began an hour earlier with a 30-piece marching band heading out from the church grounds and down the street in front of his home.
I suspect both have to do with the arrival of the bishop in San Miguel de Allende for Mass and Confirmations and to honor the Feast of Saint Anthony, which is Sunday. At any rate, nobody was sleeping and by 8 a.m. the church grounds were filled to the max for an open-air mass.
Since then, I have heard the jingle jingle jingle of indigenous dancers walking past my door in full costume and the clippity-clop of horseriders on the cobblestone street as they rode to the church for a blessing and later rode back.
Since then, the indigenous dancers have set up in the square near where workers are erecting an enormous stage for tomorrow’s celebrations and not far from the large band set up in the shade of an ancient tree.
The drummers have been at it for hours and the dancers are in and out of the line as they see fit. The dancing is a wonder to watch and the costumes add a psychedelic brilliance to an already brilliant day.
That’s what these photos are all about.
It is good to live in Mexico.
Saturday night fever: The last procession
On Saturday evening the final procession walked and danced into San Antonio on the eve of the Feast of Saint Anthony and the parade of Locos set for Sunday. The procession — a mix of the religious bearing images of St. Anthony, indigenous dancers and their drummers, and locos whipped to a frenzy by hard pumping music from DJ’s
Amid all the drumming, DJ-ing, and dancing were at least eight people who were completing the procession on their knees. One man was clutching an infant. Several were elderly women.
Some of them had family who placed towels or cardboard beneath their knees to soften the pain. They would run behind the penitent, gather the towel and run ahead to place it just before the knees came down on the hard stone. Some had people hold them up by their arms as they walked on their knees.
Some walked on their knees alone with nothing to buffer the contact with the hard stone street, nobody to lift their arms. Each in his or her own way was slowly working down Callejon San Antonio toward the church, as the procession swirled past them like a psychedelic river.
I have not seen this before. I know not the power of their faith or reason for such powerful supplication. I just know I felt tears in my eyes and the closest thing to a belief in a God that I have experienced in years. There was nothing showy about their demonstration of faith. It was personal, humble, and profoundly painful. You could see it in their eyes.
The rest of the procession hit a more exuberant note as Indians and ghouls and the faithful made their way to the church square together.