[03] FORMS AND TRAITS OF POPULAR RELIGIOSITY

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Popular Religiosity, its various forms and traits:

Anscar Chupungco described popular religiosity in terms of the varied forms and traits of its concrete socio-cultural expressions.

  1. Varied forms of popular religiosity in the Philippines: popular devotions, altars or shrines, processions, religious drama, and dances. In practice, any specific popular religiosity may include some, if not all, of the above-mentioned forms intertwined; albeit, it is not imperative that it exhibits these traits all at once.
  2. General traits of popular religiosity in the Philippines:[i] “festive and dramatic, spontaneous and creative, personal yet communitarian, otherworldly yet profoundly human, symbolic yet immediate.[ii]

Popular Religiosity in form of religious drama

Religious drama may be classified according to the degree of affinity to the official liturgy.[iii]

  1. Religious drama may be described as “rooted or called for in the liturgy.” Falling under this classification are popular rites that have been integrated into the liturgical celebrations, which initially gave birth to them in view of bringing the liturgy closer to the life of the people. (Example: “Washing of the feet” within the Lord’s Supper liturgy.)
  2. Religious drama may also be described as “derived from the liturgy though not really called for.” Belonging to this group are popular rites that are not really called for in the liturgy and, thus, can be taken independently from the liturgical celebrations which first inspired them. Example: Panúnulúyan
  3. Finally, religious drama may be classified as “not related at all to the liturgy.[iv] Included in this group are expressions of popular religiosity that developed around the feasts listed in the liturgical calendar though, in the strict sense, are non-liturgical celebrations. Example: Santrakrusan, a festivity held in May commemorating St. Helena’s finding of the cross. This festivity developed around the feast of the finding of the Holy Cross which was once celebrated on the 3rd of May.

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[i] Anscar J. Chupungco, Liturgical Inculturation: Sacramentals, Religiosity, and Catechesis (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1992), 102-19.

[ii] Ibid., 112.

[iii] On the classification of the religious dramatizations, see Doreen G. Fernández, Palabas: Essays on Philippine Theater History (Quezon City, Philippines: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1996), 10-11, 168-69; Nicanor G. Tiongson, Kasaysayan at Estetika ng Sinakulo at Ibang Dulang Pangrelihiyon sa Malolos [History and Aesthetics of the “Sinakulo” and Other Religious Drama in Malolos] (Quezon City, Philippines: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1975), 28-50.

[iv] Santrakrusan, i.e., a festivity held in May commemorating St. Helena’s finding of the cross, which developed around the feast of the finding of the Holy Cross once celebrated on the 3rd of May is a case in point.

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