Semana Santa is up for sale in the southern Colombian city of
Popayán. For the first time in the city’s 453 year history, images
of Jesus Christ will be adorned with advertising slogans in order to
fund the Catholic holy week.
Easter celebrations in Popayán will be commercialized because state and private funding has been cut. El Tiempo reported that the Ministry of Culture cut last year’s expenditure on the event from 85 million pesos down to 78 million pesos this year. Private sponsorship is down 50 percent.
President of the Committee for Semana Santa, Felipe Velasco, said that 90 percent of the committee’s budget is spent on street processions. Banners depicting the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, which traditionally preside over the parade, cost 80 million pesos. As a result, they are seeking businesses to sponsor the processions.
Banners of religious figures 2.8 meters long and 1.1 meters wide will include 30 centimeters of advertising space at the bottom. To advertise in this space will cost a private business 2.5 million pesos. The banners will be placed at 23 spots along the procession route from April 2nd until Easter Sunday.
The concept is popular among Catholic priests in the area, who have suggested such banners be hung from the city’s bell towers as well.