Filipinos and Austrian devotees came in droves on Sunday, January 21, 2024, to the Filipino Catholic Chaplaincy church in Vienna’s 10th District to pay homage to the Sto. Niño and to celebrate the Sinulog Festival. The annual Feast of the Sto. Nino and Sinulog Festival is organized by the Filipino Catholic Chaplaincy and the Kapunongan ng mga Bisaya sa Austria (KBA), under the leadership of Ms. Sydney Wagner.
The festival highlighted dances of the Filipinos’ pagan past and their embrace of Christianity.
The Filipino Ambassador to Austria, Evangeline Arroyo-Bernas, and other embassy officials attended the event.
„I am very happy to see your deep devotion to our faith here in Austria. We must also be childlike in how we accept our faith and our relationship with God. The trust of a child is something that we should carry with us,“ the ambassador said.
Fr. Ely Dalanon likewise blessed all the Santo Nino images and icons. After celebrating the Holy Eucharist, the devotees performed the ritual dance to the beat of the drums, holding their personal icon of the Sto. In a synchronized two-steps-forward-one-step-backwards rhythm of the Sinulog movement, Nino chanted “PIT SENYOR!” repeatedly.
After the simple lunch provided by the Filipino Catholic Chaplaincy, group dance presentations followed, which featured participants in vibrantly coloured costumes dancing to the rhythm of drums and native gongs. The dances portrayed the historical celebration of Sinulog and the different cultural devotions to the Santo Niño from various parts of the Philippines.
„Maraming naitulong sa akin ang Sto. Nino sa buong buhay ko. Kaya sa kanya ako dumadaing, nagdadasal humihingi ng tulong,“ Emma C., a devotees of Sto. Nino commented.
„Malapit sa akin ang Sto. Nino dahil sa kanyang katangian bilang isang bata. Magiging bata sa pananampalataya, sa pang-araw-araw na pamumuhay. Just be humble, like the child Jesus!“ Shiela S. another Sto. Nino devotees said.
“Sto. Nino is important because I am a Visayan, and we are devoted to Sto. Nino. And I believe that the child Jesus is always protecting us,” another devotee commented.
Mahalaga sa akin ang Sto. Nino dahil pagdating ko sa Vienna sa kanya ako nagdasal para matulungan akong makapaghanap kaagad ng trabaho,“ Estela Diaz, Sto. Nino devotee, said.
„Sto. Nino gives us hope. I am so happy to be here today and participate in this religious celebration, said Diana, an Austrian devotee.
The Filipino Chaplaincy thanked and congratulated the organizers and all those who contributed to the celebration’s success.
A nine-day novena mass was held before the fiesta at the Filipino Catholic Church in Vienna.
The Kapunungan sa mga Bisaya sa Austria and the Filipino Catholic Chaplaincy have been organising annual Sinulog celebrations in Austria for several years.
The Sinulog Festival is one of the most celebrated festivals in the Philippines. It is held every third Sunday of January in Cebu City to give honor to Senor Sto. Nino. This great Filipino celebration event would be comparable to the annual Mardi Gras parade held in the American city of New Orleans or Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival in Brazil, minus the sexual overtones and booze party.
The Cebu Sinulog Festival is a much more conservative and religious event, drawing thousands of spectators and tourists worldwide and being an annual homecoming reunion event for many Filipinos.
The Sinulog feast is being held to honour the Sto. Nino, or the child Jesus. It is fundamentally a dance ritual commemorating the Filipino people’s pagan past and their embrace of Christianity.
text and pictures: Hector Pascua
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