The Sacred Heart fiesta in El Paso

Stencilling designs onto salt for the Sacred Heart fiesta in El Paso, La Palma island
Stencilling designs onto salt for the Sacred Heart fiesta

It’s El Paso’s main fiesta, The Sacred Heart (El Corazon Sagrado). Like Mazo and San José, they make archways and carpets, but they’re slightly different.

In San José, they dye the salt, and then put the colours together to make the picture. In El Paso, they start by putting down white salt –kilos and kilos of it from the salt pans in the southern tip of the island. They carefully put a stencil on top, and spray on the various colours until the design’s complete. In this case, they added a table on top with a statue of the Virgin, and then this man started retouching.

A nearly-finished carpet and altar, Sacred Heart fiesta in El Paso, La Palma island
A nearly-finished carpet and altar

The salt carpets aren’t the only thing. They also make wonderful archways, similar to those in Mazo.

Panels for the Sacred Heart fiesta in El Paso, La Palma island
Panels for the Sacred Heart fiesta in El Paso

Well, as you can see, these days some of them aren’t arches. In this case the carpet is leaves from tree-heathers, laid down with a garden sieve. Like the ones in Mazo, they’re decorated with seeds and flowers.

Flower detail made with maize and other seeds, Sacred heart archway, El Paso, La Palma island
Flower detail made with maize and other seeds

Unlike the ones in Mazo, a lot of the fine detail is done with crushed and dyed eggshells.

Picture of a traditional Canarian house made with crushed eggshells, Sacred heart archway, El Paso, La Palma island
Fine detail made with crushed eggshells

They have lots of religious processions on La Palma, where they take the statue out of the church and around the neighbourhood streets, with music provided by the town band. A lot of the statues are beautiful, but if you see a lot of these processions, they do get a bit samey.

The Sacred Heart procession starts much like all the others, only on the salt carpet. But when they get halfway along the first carpet, the statue stops and brightly coloured bits of paper and bougainvillea petals start raining down from a nearby rooftop, which is very pretty indeed. (The papers had “The promises of the Sacred Heart” printed on them – at least twelve different ones.) And the kids scramble to collect the papers while they release some doves.

At the end of the first carpet, the procession stops again, beside the old church, where the choir sings about “The Source of Love” – and sing it very well, too.

Then the procession carries on round the back streets.

Last year the procession started at 7 pm.

Procession for the Sacred Heart fiesta, El Paso, La Palma island
Procession for the Sacred Heart fiesta, El Paso

Posted by sheila

Sheila came to La Palma with a six month contract and has stayed 24 years so far. She used to work as a software engineer at the observatory, but now she's a writer and Starlight guide.

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