Manila cancels one of the largest religious festivals in Asia

The Manila city government announced today that they have agreed with Quiapo Church to cancel the grand procession of the image of the Black Nazarene in January 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic. For more than 200 years, this appears to be the first time that the procession for the image of the Black Nazarene has been canceled.

(Black Nazarene Festival in Quiapo: Is It Really As Bad As Some People Make It Out to Be?)

The Black Nazarene festival is held every 9th of January where the life-sized statue of Christ is carried through town while a huge crowd follows and tries to touch the statue. Being in contact with the statue is believed to be miraculous.

Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso reportedly said that public health protocol must prevail over religious traditions as the COVID-19 continue to pose a worldwide threat. He says, “Nakikisuyo po ako, iwasan po muna natin ang mga parada at prusisyon ngayong may pandemya dulot ng sakit na COVID-19. Maaari pong mapahamak ang ating mga deboto, mailagay sila sa alanganin.”

[I am appealing to avoid parades and processions as we are currently in a pandemic caused by  the COVID-19 disease. Our devotees might be harmed and at risk.]

Quiapo Church rector Monsignor Hernando Coronel says that while he is sad that Traslacion 2021 will not include the grand procession from Luneta to Quiapo Church, the public is obliged to follow the safety protocol against COVID-19.

(Black Nazarene Photos: One of the World’s Most Extreme and Intense Religious Events)

The rector reportedly adds that more masses will be held for devotees instead starting January 9, all in accordance with the safety guidelines. “‘Yung physical distancing, kailangan naka-faceshield, naka-face mask, kasama ang regular monitoring ng body temperature, lahat ‘yun susundin natin. Hindi lamang ito sa loob ng simbahan, pati na rin sa labas,” Coronel says.

[Physical distancing, wearing of face masks and shields, and regular monitoring of body temperature will all be observed for people inside and outside of the church.]

The Manila City mayor announced earlier this week that he would sign an executive order to allow more people to go to church, from 10 to 30 percent of seating capacity.

Have you participated in the Black Nazarene festival? Share your experiences in the comments.

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