Obando Festival and Fertility Rites

Obando Fertility Rites Festival

The Obando Fertility rites is one of the ceremonies and traditions of the Obando festival. The fertility dance is a type of prayer in order to wish for People who are hoping to bear a child, to find a wife or husband, and to have good fortune. The rites includes wearing traditional clothes and by playing instruments made from bamboo. A lot of couples have attest that after participating in the Obando Fertility rites their wish to bear a child came true. Due to the population growth in Bulacan as well, the Obando Fertility rites during the Obando Festival became a reason why a lot of couples tend to travel there.

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If you ever plan on going for a trip in the month of May here in the Philippines, you might want to consider going to Bulacan specifically in Obando due to their famous festival. The Obando festival in Bulacan is one of the main tourist attractions there due to the town’s liveliness during the feast. Celebrated on May 17 to 19, the Obando festival is a Catholic themed festival held by the San Pascual Baylon church to honor the three patron saints of Obando which are San Pascual De Baylon, Sta. Clara, and Nuestra Señora De Salambao.

The liveliness of the town during the festival is one of the reasons why a lot of local and foreign tourists go for trips in Obando, Bulacan. There are many tourist attractions in Bulacan to enjoy so if ever you’re willing to settle in and plan to live there you can plan on investing in a real estate there, since there are a lot of house and lots for sale there you can consider those too.

If you’re ever interested in taking a trip to Obando, Bulacan and taking part in the Obando Festival, here are the things you should know about the festival and the Obando fertility rites.

The History of Obando Fertility Rites

It is said that the origin of the festival is quite uncertain but Obando has always been known to be tied with the three saints throughout history hence they are called “the town of three saints” The influences of Franciscans in Obando is the reflection of why San Pascual Bailon and Sta. Clara are the patron saints of Obando. Meanwhile Our Lady of Salambáo, the third saint, is named after a Virgin figure that is reported to have been discovered in nearby waters in 1763 and venerated in the Obando church.

According to Colonial records the festival seems to have started during the spanish era. The Obando fertility rites origin is said to be a Catholic Christian version of a ritual dance of the Babaylans back in the pre-colonial period. The Babaylans have a ritual where they dance as a way of offering for the Deities of nature. During the Spanish era where Christianity and Catholicism was introduced to the Filipinos, The Spaniards added or change the way it is executed by introducing a version where instead of dancing for deities it is replaced by Christian Saints. Sta. Clara is one of the prominent deities for the dance as she takes on a role of hope for people who cannot bear a child since it is believed that she can cure infertility and can also prevent women to it.

Activities during the festival

Since the month of May is during the summer and hot season here in the Philippines, The people in Obando will usually start early in the morning to feel the coolness of the atmosphere. The way the festival is celebrated for three days is that each day has the same format to it. The difference between the days is that each day a different patron saint will be at the front then the other two at the back during the procession and at the church. In Each day of the festival in church pastors will allow church and feast goers to kiss a relic of the saint on their specific day.

During the three days of the Obando festival, booths are set as early as before dawn. Different booths will be seen set up by locals and by the church, There are food booths and the usual booths that appeals for the children, there are also booths that sells religious souvenirs, and there are booth in front of churches set up by the local sisters there to sell images of the three patron saint as well as other saints.

Eggs have a special meaning during the Obando festival specifically for Sta. Clara since the eggs represents fertility and there also other expanded meaning of the eggs depending on the color tied with it since each color has a different meaning to it. Members of the church will usually set up booths during the festival to sell eggs with different colored ribbon on it. The meaning of each ribbon are as follows, for a good life, for fortune, for a good spirituality, for enlightenment, for good health, and to have a child.

Masses are held hourly during and throughout the morning. 8 am will be the start of the procession in the plaza in front of the church, the procession lasts for 3 hours there will be musicians that plays bamboo instruments and dancers dancing the infertility ritual. Do note that the costumed dancers during the procession are not the ones that are praying for a child but they are dancers that pray for the people who are praying to have a child to succeed and be answered.

The Ritual of Doing the Obando Fertility Rites

During the Obando festival childless couples will gather around the streets for the procession or parade. In the procession there are carts that carry the statues of the three patron saints. All in while the procession is on going they would also sing the song Santa Clara Pinung-pino. The procession stops at a church and that is the time that they will proceed to dance at the aisle of the church. It will depend on whom you will dance to for your prayers and wishes. It is said that if you seek for a wife you dance to San Pascual De Baylon, If you seek for a husband you dance to Sta. Clara, and If a couple seeks to bear a child they dance to Nuestra Senora De Salambao.

In order to do the ritual, the people that are participating in the dance should be performed with gyrating hips with the time of the music and with their beliefs. The townspeople will usually join the dance as a way to express their gratitude. Farmers, fishermen, couples, and even children may join the crowd to dance to show off their gratitude towards the Patron Saints as they feel that their wishes and prayers have been granted. Local and Foreign tourists will also usually join the dances as a way for them to feel the festival spirit.

When it comes the fertility dance there are 5 basic steps that represents a prayer

  1. Dancers clasp their hands with the thumbs pointed upward toward the heart while waltzing and praying, “Lord, we believe that You will give us a child.”
  2. Women dancers’ arms and hands move as if to push their abdomen upward, while the men hold their arms and hands at their back, both praying, “Lord, please heal me.”
  3. Women dancers move their palms clockwise as if massaging their abdomen, and point to the heavens, while the men dance with their hands at their back, also pointing to the heavens praying, “Lord, please give us a child.”
  4. Couples join hands together to show unity and love for each other so as to represent wanting a child.
  5. Couples waltz together with their arms swaying from left to right as a form of thanksgiving.