SASMUAN -- A mix crowd of devotees, people with disabilities and tourists will form part of the endless sea of participants to this year's "Kuraldal Atlung Ari" along with religious devotees seeking answers to prayers and even cures for illnesses.
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. For delicacy lovers it is also the the last opportunity to buy and taste the rare local delicacy "duman" (gluttonous rice cereal). The duman sold in Sasmuan is the last duman produced for the Yuletide season.
January 6, the Feast of the Lord's 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), according to historian Nina Tomen.
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.
Tomen said Kuraldal Atlung Ari will end with a bang on January 10, the evening of the "kawakasan" (ending).
Naska Guanlao, a diabetic, said that he has been participating in the event for as long as he could remember. He would close his salon in nearby Santa Rita town and join pilgrims who would flock to the yearly event.
"Every time I joined, every dance is a fervent prayer for good health for me and our family. It is also a prayer of thanks for the previous year that has been blessed by the Lord," Guanlao said, adding that he would miss this year's celebration with devotees who come from as far as Manila and Bulacan.
After the 6:00 p.m. procession of the image of Apung Lucia, a street mass will be held in front of the barangay chapel, where thousands 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 trippers to sample the local delicacies of this town.