Velaciones or holy vigils adorn churches around Antigua, Guatemala and surrounding villages at least every Friday throughout Cuaresma (Lent) and about two days before processions during Semana Santa (Holy Week).
1. Velación with fruit and vegetable garden arranged around the blue dyed sawdust alfombra
A brotherhood, known as a hermandad, organizes their church’s velación, displaying their religious processional image near the altar against a giant biblical backdrop. At its feet lies a vibrant handmade alfombra (carpet) of sawdust, hemmed by a huerto (garden), an eye-catching display of flowers, fruit, vegetables, candles and specially shaped loaves of bread, brought to the church as offerings the day before.
2. Velación with natural colored sawdust alfombra decorated with fruit, flowers and candles
3. Colorful sawdust alfombra surrounded with fruit and flowers
4. Alfombra dyed the traditional mauve of Semana Santa surrounded by a huge array of vegetables
5. Close up of the alfombra with an image of Jesus bearing the cross
6. A brightly colored alfombra edged with displays of flowers, fruit and vegetables. Some processional images sit below the backdrop
7. Another colorful velación
8. One of the processional images, a figure of Mary
9. Close up of a velación huerto of fruit, vegetables and specially made bread
10. Some velaciones have caged birds in the garden
11. The corozo, a giant seed pod, grows on a species of palm tree in Guatemala. It's a traditional adornment for alfombras during Semana Santa
12. Close up of the corozo seed pod
Sacred music plays while the faithful or the inquisitive flood into the church to pray and admire these temporary works of religious art. A festival atmosphere fills the evening air outside as hordes of visitors hang around in groups gossiping and jostling for the best bites around smoky grills and seasonal food and drink stands.
13. The faithful praying and admiring the velación at the front of the church
14. Smoky grills awaiting the hungry
15. Firing up the comal to cook tortillas