Each year on the week before Easter Sunday, the quiet little town of Larantuka in East Flores, in the East Nusa Tenggara Province comes alive with unique traditions and solemn rites celebrating the Holy Week, popularly known here as "Semana Santa". This year the series of prayers and processions will take place from 12th to 16th April 2017.
During this special week, the small town of Larantuka will be thronged with thousands of Catholic pilgrims, coming not only from surrounding islands in Flores but also from Java, Bali, and around Indonesia, joined by many international tourists. This is because of Larantuka's unique heritage commemorating the Holy Week by blending Old Portuguese devotion with local tradition that originate from the 16th century, when In their search for spices, Portuguese merchants then occupied this island.
Semana Santa commences with Rabu Trewa or Shackled Wednesday on 12th April, of the mid-Easter week. On this day, congregations gather in chapels and pray, remembering the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot which led to the arrest of Jesus, his shackling and crucifixion. This is 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 Maundy Thursday, congregations hold the tikamturo ritual, preparing the route for the following day's seven kilometer procession, by planting candles along the route. At the Chapel of Tuan Ma (the Mourning Mother Mary) the casket that has been sealed for one year is carefully opened by the Conferia, and the statue of Tuan Ma or Virgin Mary is bathed and then dressed in mourning clothes (a piece of black or purple, or blue velvet coat).
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