From April 20th to 24th 2011, the town of Larantuka, East Flores will solemnly celebrate the Holy Week , popularly known here as “Semana Santa”, and the pinnacle procession on Good Friday or the “Sesta Vera”. As in previous years, the local government along with the organizing committee has cooperated to prepare all the necessities for the religious ceremony, including accommodation and other facilities for visitors.
Located on the eastern tip of Flores Island, - Larantuka,- also known as‘Kota Reinha’ or ‘Tana Nagi’, is the capital of the district of East Flores.
Having strong Portuguese colonial influences, the city is commonly known as one where Catholicism flourishes in Indonesia. For more than four centuries, this region has inherited Catholicism through the role of the common people rather than through the clergy. The King of Larantuka, missionaries, the brotherhood of apostles of the common people (Confreria), the Semana Tribe, and the Kakang (Kakang Lewo Pulo Tribe) as well as the Pou (Lema Tribe) played, and still play, a pivotal role in the development of Catholicism in this Larantuka region.
In this religiously Holy Week, the normally quiet and tranquil town will be filled with pilgrims and congregations from many parts of Indonesia and from around the world. This year, PosKupang.com reports that the Ambassador of Portugal for Indonesia, H.E. Carlos Frota is scheduled to attend the peak ceremony on Good Friday, April 22nd 2011.
The Semana Santa will commence on Thursday April 20th with the Rabu Trewa or the Shackled Wednesday. On this day, Devotees gather in chapels and pray in remembrance of the betrayal by Judas Iscariot that led to Jesus’s arrest and shackling. This is the time when the town of Larantuka turns into the Town of Mourning; a time when it drowns into solemnity and reflection for the purification of the soul.
In the afternoon of Holy Thursday, devotees enact the tikam turo ritual in preparation for taking the route in the next day’s seven kilometer procession by planting candles along the road. At the Chapel of Tuan Ma (Virgin Mary) the casket that is sealed for one year will be opened by the Conferia, and afterwards the statue of Tuan Ma or Virgin Mary will be bathed and clothed in mourning clothes (a piece of black or purple, or blue velvet coat).
The pinnacle of the rituals falls on Good Friday or the Sesta Vera. The door of the chapel of Tuan Ma and Tuan Ana (Jesus and the Virgin Mary) will be opened at ten o’clock in the morning. The Good Friday procession is highlighted by the ritual of walking the body of Jesus Christ, placing Jesus as the center of the ritual and placing Mother Mary as the center of attention, as the mourning mother (Mater Dolorosa). The Sabtu Santo (Holy Saturday) and the Minggu Paskah (Easter Sunday) follow the next days, marking the end of the entire Easter week procession.
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