Jaro’s Fiesta of Candelaria – Rooted in Religiosity and Rich Traditions
All roads lead to Jaro every 2nd of February as Ilonggos flock this historic district to commemorate and honor the Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria (Our Lady of Candles). A religious activity, the Feast of Candelaria attracts local and foreign guests who wish to witness this solemn, grandiose, and spiritual event being shared by all Ilonggos.
Truly, our devotion to the Senora is evident as the Jaro Cathedral is filled with people starting from 4 AM Mass and well into the night. A sea of devotees amassed right in front of the church to give homage to the Senora and light candles in her honor.
This year’s Feast of Candelaria is also as significant as the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral is named as the National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles – the first Marian Shrine to be declared by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in the Visayas. Both a privilege and a responsibility, the national shrine will lead the devotion to the Senora and will look after all pilgrims from all over the country who will visit the Senora. The Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria was declared Patroness of Western Visayas by Blessed Pope John Paul II on April 1972.
The pastoral activities of the Shrine include Masses, confessions, Holy Rosary, fiesta, basic ecclesial community works, and the KABALAKA project.
Candles, this year in green and yellow, are lit at kiosks surrounding the cathedral. People are lining up to say prayers and light their candles. The blessed candles, the quintessential symbol of the fiesta, are said to provide protection to the faithful especially in times of disasters.
One of the highlights of the Jaro Fiesta is the procession which is participated by students, faithful, fiesta queen and princesses, and the clergy. I had the opportunity to witness this beautiful event and I want to share it with you. These are the highlights of the procession:
2012 Fiesta Queen and Escort with her Princesses and Escorts
Their majesties were dressed with beautiful Filipiniana gowns, enough to make the roads of Jaro a fashion runway.
Children Fancy Dress Ball Queen and Escort with her Princesses and Consorts:
Acolytes and members of St Vincent Ferrer and St Joseph Seminaries:
Origin of the Candlemas and Candelaria
The Feast of Our Lady of Candles originated from the celebration of Mary’s purification after giving birth to Christ. It is a Jewish ritual that requires females who gave birth to offer sacrifice (such as lamb) to God as giving birth, they believe, makes a woman unclean. This event also coincides with another significant Christian tradition – the Presentation of Jesus at the temple.
Here in Iloilo City, the devotion to Nuestra Senora de Candelaria stretches back for centuries, but the pomp and glorious celebration started on height of Jaro as an industrial and commercial hub in Iloilo. The traditions are traced during the Spanish times, when morning dianas would awake the people of Jaro, and the elite families would prepare a lavish feast for all in the plazas. Today, the celebrations are livelier than ever, as the people of Iloilo consider this event a significant piece of cultural and religious treasure.
Agri-Industrial Fair and Cock Fighting
Jaro Fiesta is not just a one day event, celebrations started two months ago – with the opening of the Jaro Agri-Industrial Fair. The whole Jaro Plaza was converted into a giant tiangge where you can buy virtually anything from potted plants and orchids from Pavia and Villa, marble seats and tables from Romblon, to shoes, clothes, and even cellphone accessories. You may also place your bets on typical Pinoy-style peryahan and enjoy some rides installed inside the complex like ferris-wheel or caterpillar.
Another tradition being associated with Jaro Fiesta is the Filipino tradition of cock fighting. But trust me, this is not an ordinary sabungan because tens to hundreds of thousands of pesos are placed on bets on this game. It is said that rich hacienderos from Negros and old families in Jaro attend this yearly event. Indeed, sabong aficionados will flock this event dubbed as “7 Cock International Derby” which will be held at Iloilo Coliseum.Tags: Festivals, Iloilo City, Jaro, Metro Iloilo - Guimaras