Passion Play of Iztapalapa is an annual event during Holy Week in the Mexico City’s borough of Iztapalapa.
It is one of the oldest and most elaborate passion plays in Mexico and the rest of the world, as well as the best known, covered every year by media both in Mexico and abroad.
Unlike others in Latin America, its origins are not in the colonial period but rather from a cholera epidemic in the 19th century, which gave rise to a procession to ask God for relief.
Over time, the procession included a passion play which grew more and more every year, it began to include various scenes related to Holy Week.
Today, the play includes not only hundreds of actors, but also thousands of men called “Nazarenos” who carry their own crosses to follow the actor chosen to play Jesus to the site where the crucifixion is reenacted.
While the event is still primarily religious, it has also become a rite of identity for the Alcaldía of Iztapalapa (only residents of certain communities are allowed to participate). And the play has also become a major tourism attraction for both the borough and the city.
In Mexico, many communities stage processions and passion plays for Good Friday, which in some places extend into other days of Holy Week. But Iztapalapa holds the largest and most elaborate of these representations, with up to 5,000 people participating and 150 of these with speaking roles.
The man who plays Jesus is chosen every year, 12 months in advanced, and he has to fulfill certain characteristics as he must be able to carry a 75 kilos (165 pounds) wooden cross, for more than 10 miles across the streets of Iztapalapa.
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