It’ll be all right on the night!

OVER THE years, the town of Pêra has become famous for its church processions.During Easter, you are able to glimpse into the history and traditions of Portuguese society when the people of the town come together and celebrate through the streets.

Collecting lavender and rosemary from the surrounding hills, they are scattered on the streets where the procession passes. On Palm Sunday, the women of Pêra make corn dollies out of palm leaves and distribute them to the crowd.

This year, the people of Pêra are acting out the Passion Play, which is a procession through the streets and fields of Pêra, only undertaken every 10 years. Starting outside the church of São Francisco, eight scenes will be re-enacted at different locations throughout the town. They include Jesus washing the feet of the disciples, the Last Supper, Judas’s betrayal and Peter’s denial, the praying on the Mount of Olives, the arrest of Jesus and encounters with Caiphas and Pilate, Jesus being beaten and the road to Calvary, the Crucifixion and eventual Resurrection. The play will be conducted entirely in Portuguese and is produced by Carlos Zé, the owner of a hardware store in Pêra, and his wife Maria de Lurdes. The cast of 35 is made up of electricians, waiters, policemen, builders, students and other residents of Pêra. However, with only three weeks to go until the procession hits the streets on March 20 at 8pm, the cast is only on its second rehearsal! Hopefully, future ones will be fully attended, as at the first rehearsal there was a no show from Jesus! It’s not only the rehearsals that are taking on that ‘amanhã’ feel, costumes are still to be made, lines need to be learnt, music finalised and lighting discussed. But it will all get done eventually…

On the night, there will be a collection for the planned old people’s home and hospice. Now in its sixth year, the project is slowly coming together to build a 35-bed home and 16-bed hospice and day centre, with building hopefully starting in October this year.

For a rare insight into a celebration of the religion that binds the people of the town together, meet outside the church in Pêra on Sunday, March 20 at 8pm. Join the multitudes for a unique Portuguese event. Louise Pimm