Nazareno Nonsense

nazarenos de verdadHere are some nazarenos doing what nazarenos are supposed to do. Which is basically to don the robes of a penitent and, well, do penance. The number of nazarenos varies from brotherhood to brotherhood, sometimes they can be as many as 2000 or more, and a procession of that size, depending on where it starts from, can last up to 14 hours. That’s a lot of penance.

el silencioLast night I went out for the Madrugá to see my absolute favourite procession here, El Silencio. I’ve only seen it a few times in my 23 years in Sevilla, mostly because it runs from 1 to 6 am. A relatively short five hours, but also during the hours I am usually attempting to sleep. What I love about this procession is that, instead of a big marching band, the musical accompaniment for each paso is an oboe, clarinet and bassoon, which creates an eerily beautiful ambiance. The other thing I love is that the paso of the Virgin (Santa María de la Concepción) is all silver and white, and that her flowers are simple bouquets of orange blossom.

Anyhoodle, last night I actually got to watch her pass by twice, by deftly winding through back streets in the wee hours, and I felt that had been reason enough to haul myself out of bed at 4 am. But on the way home we literally ran into Los Gitanos – I turned a corner thinking the coast was clear and THERE THEY WERE…

los gitanosSeriously, I almost got run over by those guys leading the way, though I still managed a quick blurry pic before scrambling onto the pavement. So we decided to stick around and at least watch the Jesús de la Salud pass by, especially as we were standing on the edge of the pavement and got a really good close-up view.

el senor los gitanosWhile waiting for the Christ paso to arrive the temperature took a sudden nose-dive and so once it had passed we decided to make our way home, and as luck would have it, this meant we walked straight into the Los Gitano virgin, Santa María de las Angustias Coronada, passing below the Setas.

virgen los gitanos

But on our way there we had passed behind the Encarnación Market and I was surprised to see it all lit up inside (this was 6.30 am) and also that a length of paper had been put up along the windows, almost but not quite blocking a view inside. What I could see were lots of feet and long robes, so of course my interest was piqued. And then I saw a spot where the paper had been torn away, so I had a look and there were a lot – and I mean a LOT – of very tired looking nazarenos and “centurians” taking a rest, eating and drinking (whether breakfast or something else I don’t know) and so I snapped a pic of a group of rather interesting looking guys standing at the market bar. And I put it up on my Instagram with the rest of my photos taken that night.

Well, suddenly my @azaharSevilla Twitter account started pinging like mad, with people either RTing or otherwise mentioning me. And it turned out it was all about this photo of some nazarenos having a break. Some people thought it was a disturbing sight, others called it Dantesque (huh?) and other criticized me for having uploaded the photo, saying I was being imprudent and could be reported and even sued. Hell, for a brief while I was actually TRENDING on Twitter (a first, and no doubt a last). All over one photo of some guys relaxing at a bar. Which I am not going to post here again, but here is a different one of another group of nazarenos I spotted on my way home, clearly all tuckered out. I’m assuming this one is okay because nobody is taking any refreshment.

nazarenso tuckered outNow, I do understand the concept that while the penitent is still wearing the garb they should respect what it stands for and should probably not be seen in public swigging a cold one. As many pointed out on Twitter, what sort of penance is that? And well, okay. But, as I mentioned earlier, I wonder why some penitents get off easier than others, simply because of the numbers. While watching Los Gitanos (one of the biggies) I saw several nazarenos stagger over to a nearby bar, clearly exhausted, for a cold drink. Is it really such a big deal that they maintain their piety and anonymity to the point of possible dehydration? And what about bathroom breaks, especially for those processions that last for up to 14 hours? How much penance is enough for one night?

I took the photo of the guys inside the market as a curiosity, because it showed nazarenos as people, and out of their usual situation. I wasn’t trying to show them as doing something wrong – that hadn’t even occurred to me. In fact, some of my favourite photos of nazarenos are shots of random pointy-hooded penitents casually wandering up a street, walking with friends, having a ciggie break, whatever. So I really hadn’t expected the Twitter shitstorm that happened over my Instagram pic. All I can say is, it’s a good thing I didn’t post the one of the nazareno wearing earphones plugged into their mobile device…

3 thoughts on “Nazareno Nonsense

  1. Wow! Glad you wrote about this. That was one of my favorite pictures because it was so journalistic in capturing a moment in time during all the fanfare.

  2. Excellent post and photos. Those haters are gonna hate. But I loved being reminded of the procession we saw in Sevilla on our first visit to Spain. Last year was our 8th trip to Spain and we saw Las Setas, among other things. I like how the procession fits in with the Setas, ancient and modern, in your photo.

  3. Hi Azahar! Really interesting that people reacted like that. My friend, whose sister was Nazarena, told me that they are only allowed to use the toilet in the cathedral and nowhere else! She said she accompanied her sister carrying water for her to drink, as they are not allowed to carry their own drinks or snacks. I don’t know which procession I saw on Palm Sunday but loads of them were pausing for snacks and drinks!! It was BOILING hot though, I certainly didn’t blame them.

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