Ever wondered what sawdust carpets have to do with Good Friday?
In the town of Antigua, Guatemalan Catholics recognize the climax of Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations by painstakingly crafting colorful sawdust carpets called alfombras, only to watch them be demolished by somber processions of men and boys clad in purple robes.
In the panorama below, you’ll see an alfombra laid on a cobblestone street. Families and friends work together through the night and into the day to create these intricate and beautiful designs out of bits of dyed sawdust. When it’s finished, the carpet is sprayed with water to keep it in place.
That is, until the next procession comes along, walks over it and destroys it. And with their steps, it’s gone forever.
Panorama: Semana Santa Alfombra in Antigua, Guatemala
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Like the transitory nature of a Tibetan Buddhist sand mandala, creation and destruction of an alfombra serves as a metaphor for the cycle of life and death.
Rather in line with the spirit of Good Friday and Easter, no?
To all those celebrating, we wish you a Happy Easter!
For more on Semana Santa in Antigua, Guatemala: Holy Gaucamole, It’s Semana Santa!