• jannipedersen

And they lived happily everafter

Sashut posing with the queen of the festival as we prepare for the traditional countryside wedding

We arrived in Panama City some days ago and it feels like a different world from the rural area we spent the last 11 days in. Due to our lodging in Ocú, I particularly enjoyed getting a hot shower, though the cold water in the bathroom in Ocú was not as bad as one would think due to the heat and constant sweating. It really served to cool us down.

Sashur left for U.S.A this morning, and Marino and I have two interviews scheduled for tomorrow Friday. Today, I have enjoyed Casco Antiquo, the old town center of Panama City and visited the museum of religious art which featured information about particularly Parita but also about Ocú. I also got the chance to enjoy the spectactular views and fresh sea breeze.

But let us return to the festivities, the days were so busy and the internet connection so slow that I'm behind on sharing our experiences:

Last Saturday in Ocú we attended a traditional rural wedding, boda campesina, as part of the festival. Through a process of selection, the organizing committee chooses a couple who gets the honor of getting married on this special day with elaborate celebrations. Excited, we gathered outside the church early Saturday morning with what seemed like the rest of town and surrounding area. The ceremony itself proceeded as a standard Catholic wedding ceremony, with the exception that an influx of journalists crowded around the couple to get the best shot, despite the priest's request to keep some distance in respect of the sacredness of the ceremony. As you can see below, the couple were dressed in traditional clothing.

Behind them, you have the priest, and at their sides, what is called god parents. They are, in this specific case, not actually acquaintances of the couple, but a politician couple who helped sponsor the ceremony. Elections are coming up next year in Panama, and in efforts we recognize from other countries, they may position themselves for election or re-election by showing up at events and fairs leading up to full campaign season. While there are no indications of specific plans or intentions on behalf of this couple other than being interested in supporting local culture, we had been told we might see politicians at the festival. Neither are political ambitions and interest in folklore in opposition to each other.

After the church ceremony, the newly wedded couple proceeded on horseback through the town to the fair grounds, where they were both fed and feed each other. Note the bride's heroic efforts in mounting the horse and positioning herself while wearing the pollera.

On stage at the fairgrounds, the two children of the couple were part of the festivities. We learned that the festival committee often prefer to select established couples for this tradition, preferring to focus the lavish celebrations on a couple that is seen as more likely to remain together. It was an enormous privilege to be part of this special tradition, and I hope this family remains as happy and devoted to each other as they looked on this gorgeous day.

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