Sunday, 20 March 2011

Cascamorras Festival, Spain Unique Festival Photos Collection

The Cascamorras Festival which takes place in Guadix and Baza in Granada province every September, is another of Spain’s most bizarre celebrations, where the two towns fight for possession of the statue of the Virgen de la Piedad.


The most-commonly accepted version of the origins of the battle date back to the Middle Ages after the Reconquest of Spain, when a labourer was working on building a church on the site of a former mosque in Baza in 1490, and heard a voice coming from the wall he was demolishing. It was said to be crying out, ‘have mercy!’
He uncovered a statue of the Virgin Mary buried in the rubble, which from then on became known as the Virgen de la Piedad – the Virgin of Mercy.




The story goes that the local authorities of Guadix, where the workman was from, and Baza, where the statue was found, had to intervene after a dispute arose about who should retain possession of the statue. It remained in Baza and a religious festival was set up every September in honour of the Virgin.
Legend also has it that if an accitano (as the people of Guadix are known) was able to enter Baza during the festivities and reach the Iglesia de la Merced without getting dirty he would be able to recover the statue for his town.




The delegation which made the attempt was accompanied by a jester or buffoon who was probably the precursor to today’s ‘Cascamorras,’ who in his harlequin suit, runs through the streets of Baza as he tries to reach the church without being stained with the tinted water with which the people of Baza are armed.




Now classed as National Tourist Interest, this impossible mission takes place in Baza every 6th September. There are stops along the way for the crowd to bow down before the Cascamorras as he waves the cascamorras flag over their heads, with other stops at two fountains on the route for the traditional dunking of the would-be thief.
By this stage, the intrepid accitano and all those in the crowd are absolutely filthy.




Needless to say, the task of the Cascamorras has been unsuccessful for more than 500 years, and he remains in Baza for the next two days before returning to Guadix on 9th September.
There, he is pelted again for failing to capture the statue for his home town.







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