SASMUAN -- The traditional religious dance ritual here today (Monday) signals the end of the Christmas season, all the while ushering a tradition that brings people from all walks of life together in tumultuous dancing.
Starting on Monday (January 6), a mix crowd of devotees, people with disabilities and tourists will form part of the sea of participants to this year's “Kuraldal Atlung Ari.”
The event is in honor of the town’s patron St. Lucy, an early Christian martyr whom the Romans killed. Her iconography often shows her holding a platter with a pair of eyes (in reference to her eyes that where gouged out during her martyrdom) and a martyr’s palm leaf.
Traditionally, St. Lucy’s feast day falls on December 13. However, folk here celebrate the town’s feast day on January 6.
Kuraldal Atlung Ari is an annual folk religious dance ritual that has spawned hundreds of followers and believers through the years. It takes place at the chapel of St. Lucy, with participants taking part in a series of impassioned dances.
The occasion is one for merrymaking and revelry, where rich and savory food abound and goodwill flows as Sasmuaneños open their homes to family, friends, pilgrims and strangers.
January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany in the Catholic calendar, is used to be known and commemorated as the Feast of the Three Kings, hence the term Atlung Ari (Three Kings).
Devotees from across Pampanga and neighboring provinces troop to this town, bringing with them hopes that an ardent wish, a long-awaited pregnancy and an immediate cure for disease would be granted with their participation in the festivity. People dance and shout “Viva Santa Lucia! Pwera sakit!” (Hail Apung Lucia! Away with illnesses!).
Kuraldal Atlung Ari will end with a bang on January 10, the evening of the "kawakasan" (ending).
After the usual procession of the image of Apung Lucia, a street Thanksgiving Mass is usually held in front of the barangay chapel, where hundreds of devotees are expected to flock to honor their beloved patron saint.
The event is also an instant commercial opportunity for local merchants who clog the streets of this town selling their wares.
The Kuraldal ritual also provides an opportunity for local food lovers to sample the local delicacies of this town.