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benqueIt may not be a common scene in Belize for Holy week but the art of sawdust carpets is slowly making its presence in the country. It first started in Benque Veijo Del Carmen in the Cayo District and for the first time this year, on Good Friday, the tradition was adopted in Orange Walk Town. Sawdust carpets are layers of colored sawdust and or other materials laid on the ground, usually the street, that is traditionally done to meet a religious procession. It is most common during the Holy week and practices mostly in Central and South America and in some parts of the United States of America. In Benque Viejo Del Carmen, the tradition has been to decorate major streets with the carpets on Holy Thursday. Assistant Coordinator at the Banquitas House of Culture is Cindy Rivero and she tells us more about their decision to adopt the tradition here in celebration of the “Santo Entiero” or holy burial.

Cindy Rivero– Assistant Coordinator

“We decided her at the house of culture that we want to do something similar in honour of that celebration so we brought the lady over to show us how to colour the sawdust and also how to make the carpets for that day, we did it here at Church Street at the La Inmaculada for the procession of the stations of the cross so coming out of the church we created carpets that had images related to the stations of the cross for example we had the different crosses, we had the face of Jesus and we also included others like the Virgin and all images relates or gives a story about Jesus Christ so we did it here so that when they do the stations cross then that procession will walk over the carpets so it was our first year so we decided to do only in front of the church but then next year we want to do it to include with different organizations and make it bigger.”

According to history, this tradition first began in Europe and was brought here by the Spanish. The carpets can be done using other organic materials such as flowers, flower petals, seeds and others. Rivero says through the collaborative work, they hope to unite the community in Orange Walk even if just for this one occasion.

Cindy Rivero– Assistant Coordinator

“The purpose of this was to reunite the community of Orange Walk so that they could start to get together and do activities with each other as a community.  In Benque they do it with small children and older persons, everyone comes together and gives a helping hand in this so we want to bring that back here in Orange Walk and I must say that we had a lot of help from volunteers and then the community itself they came out and they were willing to give a helping hand so as it everyone that saw it how we were doing it that did not know about saw dust carpets they are willing to join us next year and so they are already thinking of what they would want for that day so it started our very small.”

Rivero says they obtained their materials from Shipyard and while the material was a bit different from that used in Benque Viejo Del Carmen, with a few modifications and some patience, they eventually achieved their goal and designed some beautiful carpets.

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