Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a series of Catholic ritual in the week ahead of Easter. However, the first ritual to mark Semana Santa is the Ash Wednesday that occurs 46 days before Easter. In Larantuka, East Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, Semana Santa ritual is special becase it is the only time of each year they get to see the Holy Mother Mary statue called Tuan Ma.
A small port city on the foot of Mount Ile Mandiri, on the eastern tip of Flores Island, Larantuka is dubbed as the city of Reinha Rosari, or the city of Mother Mary. In 1665, King Ola Adobala was baptized as the first Catholic king. He changed his name to Don Fransisco Ola Adobala Diaz Vieira de Godinho (D.V.G.) and handed his golden sceptre to Mother Mary Reinha Rosari, surrendering his kingdom to the her leadership. Then in 1886, King Don Lorenzo Usineno II D.V.G. enthroned Mother Mary as the Queen of Larantuka.
The rites of Semana Santa starts with “Tikam Turo” on Holy Wednesday, when pilgrims erect fences to put candles on for the Good Friday procession. On Maundy Thursday, pilgrims pay visits to some holy statues kept in churches in Larantuka and pray before them. The two most important statues are Tuan Ma of Mother Mary and Tuan Ana of Jesus Christ Himself.
Then on Good Friday, pilgrims follow the procession to commemorate the suffering and death of the Christ, which usually starts around 8.00 p.m. and ends around 2.30 a.m. Finally on Easter Sunday, pilgrims go to Reinha Rosari Cathedral and celebrate the Resurrection of the Christ.
Budi N.D. Dharmawan © 2010