By Bill Anderson
Romerias are a very popular event in this part of Spain, but also take place in other parts of the country and the Iberian peninsula.
It is classed as a type of pilgrimage and comes from the word romero signifying a person travelling to Rome. The travelling is be done in cars, floats, on horseback or on foot, and its destination is a sanctuary or hermitage consecrated to a religious figure honoured in that day’s feast. The image is sometimes brought to the festival site on a carriage pulled by oxen. It normally involves the procession of the image of a Saint, usually one of the Catholic Virgin images and results in , well, a big party, with lots of food and drink and very loud traditional music.
So rests the cultural lesson for today. Where am I going with this? These events are usually described as days of “Togetherness” for the community. Nothing wrong with that. But, add politicians into the equation, and they can put a stop to any ideas of “togetherness”. At a recent Romeria in Mijas, as I walked into the park where it was being held, I was immediately faced with party political banners, from 3 different parties. If you support the Socialists, go here. If you support the far right, go there, and if you are with the new political party on the block, here’s where to go.
How is it that everything politicians touch turns to doo doo? Surely if religion has any value it is about breaking down the divisions in society by a shared value system. A number of years ago, my own party (PP) decided to stop setting up a PP area because they felt that the Romeria should have nothing to do with politics but should be a time for the whole community to set aside their differences and spend time together. Some people just go to the area which is giving away the best food for free. Others wouldn’t be seen dead in the enclosure of an opposition party.
This takes me off in two directions. Firstly, they do the same at the Local fairs, the Ferias. Over here for a good Socialist hamburger, or here for a far right hot dog. More words fail me.
Secondly, I find the relationship between the church and the political system unhealthy, with councillors turning up to participate in Easter and other religious processions and making sure they get their photos taken doing it. More than that, there is an expectation from within their parties that they will take part. I think I broke the mould on that one. I have no problem with councillors participating but in my opinion it should reflect an act of personal faith, not an opportunity to do politics. I’m just waiting on them to stand in solidarity with the other faiths represented in Mijas, and celebrate Ramadan, Diwali, and Hanukah, but maybe ther