What is the festival of San Lázaro, in which pets are dressed extravagantly in Nicaragua?

Dozens of Nicaraguans went this weekend to the Santa María Magdalena church, in the city of Masaya, south of Managua, to fulfill a promise to San Lázaro, a popular saint of the Catholic Church recognized by locals for healing pets. .

The festival in honor of San Lázaro is celebrated on the fifth Sunday of Lent in the María Magdalena parish, in the indigenous neighborhood of Monimbó. The activity is of great importance to the locals because they say it generates a connection between popular religiosity and the indigenous past.

During this festivity the main actors are not the human beings, but the canines, who are taken to the temple by their masters, dressed in exotic costumes to pay promises for miracles attributed to the saint.

A local historian explains to the voice of america that the activity has ancestral roots. The indigenous people of the Monimbó neighborhood worshiped the Xulu dog, which had no fur and was mute.

“Precisely in that tradition of the god Xulu and that link that is established in those parties is that this new syncretism is born, which is a Christian symbol in the sense of expressing the love between the master and the dog,” says Walter Solís, a Catholic theologian and specialist in popular religiosity.

Solís assures that the party describes “a saint that does not exist and that is encrypted” in the Gospel of Saint Luke in a parable where a man is described who has a luxurious suit and who celebrated great parties, and a poor man named Lázaro.

A historian comments that the tradition arose in honor of the indigenous people who live in the town of Monimbó.  VOA Photo

A historian comments that the tradition arose in honor of the indigenous people who live in the town of Monimbó. VOA Photo

“Lazarus, who is covered with sores, the dogs came and licked his sores, but later, when he dies, the rich man is in hell, and the poor man is in a better condition and that is when this rich man asks Lazarus to I promoted it to Abraham’s bosom and that was something that the indigenous could also establish in these festivals, where the promisers carry chicha, they carry candles and they carry things as an offering”, relates the historian.

The cult of San Lázaro is a reflection between Xulu, an indigenous person, and the Catholic festival that is celebrated on the fifth Sunday of Lent, says Solís.

Local authorities also participated in the festivities. Janina Noguera, mayor of Masaya, stressed that religious fervor is still present in the town and that it is one of the biggest festivals in the city.

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