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Feast of the Black Nazarene

Philippine Festival © ricephotos
Philippine Festival © ricephotos

Thousands of pilgrims from all over the country flock to Manila to be part of the procession accompanying the Christ statue known as the 'Black Nazarene', in the hope this will protect them from harm and ensure health, wealth and happiness for the coming year. The sacred statue is a life-sized dark wooden sculpture of Jesus Christ carrying the cross and represents passion and suffering.

The raucous cacophony of the procession usually lasts for about six hours. Traditionally all devotees marching along with the carriage bearing the statue and the colourful brass bands have to be barefoot. Traffic is hugely disrupted in the city centre for the duration. In 2017, about one million barefoot devotees marched in the procession, accompanied by over 4000 representatives of security and emergency forces. Every year there are some casualties resulting from the jostling of the crowds, and a few deaths have occurred from trampling.

The procession traditionally winds along the streets of the Quiapo district, but the route is sometimes altered to prevent overcrowding and to allow new neighbourhoods the honour. The procession of the Black Nazarene is taken extremely seriously by much of the population, 80 percent of which is Roman Catholic, and it is a fascinating religious ceremony which has captured the imagination of many travellers.

Date: 9 January 2018 (occurs in the second week of January every year)