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Monday, November 29, 2010

Ati-atihan Festival of Aklan


The Ati-Atihan Festival is a feast held annually in January in honor of the Santo Niño (Infant Jesus), concluding on the third Sunday, in the island and town of Kalibo, Aklan in the Philippines. The festival consists of tribal dance, music, accompanied by indigenous costumes and weapons, and parade along the street. Christians, and non-Christians observe this day with religious processions.
History

A 13th century (c.1200 A.D.) event explains the origins of the festival. A group of 10 Malay chieftains called Datus, fleeing from the island of Borneo settled in the Philippines, and were granted settlement by the Ati people, the tribes of Panay Island. The Ati-Atihan was originally a pagan festival from this tribe practicing Animism, and their worshiping their anito god. Spanish missionaries gradually added a Christian meaning. Today, the Ati-Atihan is celebrated as a religious festival..

The people attend masses for the Santo Niño, and benefit dances sponsored by government organizations. The formal opening mass emphasizes the festival’s religious event. The procession begins with a rhythmic drumbeats, and dances parading along the street. The second day begins at dawn with a rosary procession, which ends with a community mass, and procession. The highlight of the festival occurs on the last day, when groups representing different tribes compete. The festival ends with a procession of priest carrying torches, and different images of the Santo Niño. The contest winners are announced at a masquerade ball which officially ends the festival.

Other festivals held in the region include.

Dinagyang of Iloilo, Halaran of Capiz, Binirayan of Antique ,MassKara of Bacolod and
Biniray Festival of Romblon, Romblon.

Note: This is No.3 on a series of articles on Philippines Festivals and Fiestas

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