Hundreds troop to dance ritual

January 8, 2011

SASMUAN — Lina Yumul, 58, could barely walk from mild arthritis in her left leg, but managed to limp her way among an endless sea of devotees who trooped to this town for the Kuraldal Atlung Ari.
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.

Yumul, like most other devotees, believe that the yearly sacrifice to join the big crowds for the annual ritual would cure her of her physical ailments, or at least provide a little relief from her recurring arthritis.
“I sell fish at the Guagua market every day, but each year I make it a point to join in the yearly dance ritual,” Yumul said.
Local historian Nina L.B. Tomen, in her book “Kuraldal Atlung Ari & Libad Bangka nang Apung Iru: Beyond the Revelry,” describes the festival as a five-day fiesta also in honor of Apung Lucia. It commences on January 6 and ends on January 10.
The occasion is one for merrymaking and revelry, where rich and savory food abounds and goodwill flows as Sasmuaneños open their homes to family, friends, pilgrims and strangers.
January 6, in the Catholic calendar, used to be known and commemorated as the Feast of the Three Kings, hence the term Atlung Ari (Three Kings), according to 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.
Jim Strauss, a British national, said he would always make it a point to come home to Sasmuan with his Filipino wife. He describes his first Kuraldal experience as a “total crowd leveler,” adding that people from all walks of life can forget their worries in the long days of dancing and merrymaking.
Tomen said that Kuraldal Atlung Ari will end with a bang on January 10, the evening of the “kawakasan” (ending).
After the 6 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. (Ian Ocampo Flora)

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