The religious fluvial procession during Dinagyang Festival depicts a common historical scene of the Spaniards arriving in the islands by boat and bearing the gift of faith through an icon of the Holy Child Jesus in His image as the Señor Santo Niño.
It is held every 4th Friday of January and organized by the Parish of San Jose de Placer. The fluvial spectacle features festively decorated pump-boats loaded with devotees, some in old Spanish guard costumes, mostly bearing statues of the Santo Niño. The priests and officials of religious groups, together with Iloilo City government heads, representatives of competing Ati Tribes in warrior costume and winners of the Ms. Dinagyang are usually on the lead boats.
The boats sail on the Iloilo River, starting at Fort San Pedro and dock along the Muelle Loney river-bank in front of the Customs House (Aduana). The mainland welcome has more devotees and spectators which then merge to join the foot procession.
The foot-procession is headed by the Hermano and Hermana Mayor followed by the faithful carrying Santo Niño statues and similar religious items in different sizes and various costumes. Some have little boys garbed like the Santo Niño. The foot-procession detours to the Provincial Capitol before proceeding to the San Jose Parish Church at Plaza Libertad where mass is celebrated.
The solemnity of this event is highlighted by the jubilant devotion expressed in the observation of religious pageantry like merry ringing of the bells, Spanish-period costumes, and a shower of fireworks to welcome the arrival of the patron saint amidst cheers of “Viva Señor Santo Niño!!!”
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