Friday, 14 April 2017

Palm Sunday: Artsy Leaves And Religion

When I was a kid, on Palm Sunday, I always looked forward to getting my 'palaspas', or coconut leaves, that were woven and turned into artful forms, such as crosses, bird figures, triangular shapes, and cubes. 

I knew there was some religious significance to bringing these lukay, as we call it in Hiligaynon, to the church because they always ended up at my Nanay's altar. But for me, as a kid, I was fascinated by how a simple coconut leaf could be turned into artsy figures after some folding and creativity. And the artists who created those creative fronds I got when I was a kid lived in the haciendas. Their mastery of this art was just learned from neighbors.

Luckily, I always got mine from my grandmother, who always forced my relatives living in the farm to give me any artsy lukay I wanted. What can I say? My grandma spoiled me. Ha-ha-ha!

These palaspas were brought to the church to be blessed by the priest, and after the Mass, some people placed this at their altar at home, or at their door to keep away evil, and ward off gossipy neighbors and loan collectors. Ha-ha-ha!

This year, the palaspas carried by the Catholic faithful to the city plaza were mostly bought from the church grounds sold by enterprising 'artists' from the haciendas, who now knew how to monetize their art. For 20 pesos each, you can have your palaspas without having to climb a coconut tree. Ha-ha-ha!

At school, we were taught that the tradition of waving these palaspas came from the Bible when Jesus entered Jerusalem and was welcomed by people waving palm leaves. And since palm trees are scarce in the Philippines, we turned to what we have a lot: coconut trees!

Well, had Jesus been welcomed into one of the rural villages in the Philippines, He would have been greeted, not only with the waving of artsy coconut leaves, but also with fresh coconut water (or buko juice!) and freshly baked buko pie! And Jesus probably would never have left!

And that morning at our city plaza, where Father Bonsoy led his parishioners at the blessing of their coconut palaspas, I was just glad that the tradition continues. Although I no longer felt like having my own palaspas to wave, I was just happy I was there to watch a lot of people do.

So, did you have your artsy palaspas blessed, too?

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