A small image of Jesus on a donkey toured this Sunday the center of Asunción accompanied by the ecclesiastical authorities, with Archbishop Edmundo Valenzuela, and a small group of faithful, about 100 people, flying the traditional palms of Palm Sunday.
Although Paraguay is defined as a Catholic country, the celebration that marks the beginning of Holy Week, and that commemorates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, went unnoticed in the capital, and that time invited to go out into the streets .
The faithful gathered at the Oratory of Our Lady of the Assumption, known as the Pantheon of the Heroes, where Valenzuela blessed the palms, braided with leaves of pindó, name of that plant in the Guaraní language, and delivered a small sermon in defense of the traditional family
The blessing gave way to the procession and those present took to the streets to accompany the religious carving, escorted by palms and praised with songs, to the cathedral.
While the group marched through the center of Asunción, from the nearby restaurants, the customers drank their breakfasts without paying much attention to the procession.
This attitude of indifference towards the festivity has also been observed this year by the palm vendors that every Palm Sunday are installed in the esplanade of the cathedral.
Isabel Sosa plaits and sells palmas since she was nine years old and assured Efe that this year she had noticed a decrease in trade.
"This year less is sold, less people come to the mass. I do not know why, but there are few people," he said.
The same perception shared Mary Duarte, another of the merchants, who has seen a decrease in participation in the mass of Palm Sunday.
"There are no people, it is not like last year that there were a lot of people, this year there is not," he said while trying to sell the most backward of his products.
Duarte was not the only one who, with the procession concluded and the mass already begun, kept enough stock.
Like her, the rest of the vendors of the esplanade exhibited their palms on the ground, without much prospect of them running out.
This business is not governed by the law of supply and demand, at least in the sale to the public, and there is only a single price for palms: 5,000 guaranies, the equivalent of about 0.80 cents.
This uniformity responds to the fact that many of the vendors are from the same family, as Sosa said, who inherited this trade "from generation to generation".
This woman assured that she only needs "a few hours" to interlace the palm leaves and elaborate "different models".
"I'm a professional already in this", smiles proudly.
The palms of Palm Sunday still green, since the leaves of pindó were collected a few days ago, and are colored with the flowers that complete the braiding.
"The material is the palm, the rue, the rosemary, the evergreens and all the accessories that it has, it has to have seven things, but it is expensive and we do not put everything at times", Sosa justified.
Duarte, the other vendor, added that these herbs are also "remedies," so popular in Paraguayan culture, and argued that, once blessed, they can be used "for bad weather, for creatures (children), for everything. .. "
Inside the cathedral, Valenzuela already read the Gospel with the Passion of Christ, while outside some faithfuls continued to arrive.
Justo Pastor introduced himself to his two granddaughters, who, in addition to buying their palms, entertained them with corn pororo.
"We come to the cathedral every year because they want to see the burrito, that's why I bring them in. I always buy the palm because it's our tradition," Pastor shared with Efe.
This tradition marks "the beginning of a very important week for Christians", as is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as another one of the assistants to the Mass, Raquel Centurión, told Efe.
On Good Friday, thousands of Paraguayans will travel to the southern city of San Ignacio de Misiones, to visit the altarpieces made with vegetables, in a scenario known as Tañarandy or "Land of the Irreducible".