Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Problem with Palm Sunday

This woman was selling leaves outside of Santa Ana Church in Teusaquillo. But I don't know the species. 
Today, Bogotá celebrated Palm Sunday, or Domingo de Ramos, the start of Easter Week. But while the day provides an opportunity for people to express their faith and visit beautiful old churches, it also carries an environmental cost: The traditional blessing of leaves from palmas de vino y de cera, wine and wax palms, is devastating those trees in the wild. The palma de cera is Colombia's national tree.

Children parade with palm leaves. (Photo:
Police confisticating wax palm fronds.
(Photo: CAR)
City officials have prohibited the practice and encouraged alternatives, such as using corn husks or live seedlings, which are planted afterwards. The Ministry of the Environment has even promoted making religious offerings out of junco, an aquatic weed which is choking reservoirs - thus killing two birds with one stone.

Homosexuales comulgando
Palm Sunday also saw polemic between church leaders, who used the day to preach against legalized adoption by same-sex couples and gay-rights activists demanding the right. The Constitutional Court is expected to rule soon on the issue. Gays attended mass wearing shirts with phrases such as 'I am gay, I have kids and I'm Catholic' and 'Homofobia isn't Christian.'

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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