Various Versions of ‘Pabasa’ on Holy Week Resembling a Singing Contest

One of the enduring traditions among Filipinos during Holy Week is the ‘Pabasa’, a ritualistic chanting of the sufferings endured by our Lord before His crucifixion and death. For Catholics, this is a sacred tradition that should be conducted with solemnity.

Pabasa Biritan

The ‘Pabasa’ has been a longstanding tradition passed down through generations, accompanied by various rituals and preparations, including the provision of food for the participants and attendees. During this time, eating meat is typically prohibited, and one of the customary dishes prepared for the occasion is ‘Boro’.

However, over time, how the ‘Pabasa’ is performed seems to be evolving, resembling more of a singing contest rather than a religious ritual. Many of those who perform it now showcase vocal prowess akin to contestants in popular singing competitions. This transformation is evident in viral videos posted on platforms like TikTok and X.

Undoubtedly, many Catholics and elders may raise their eyebrows and feel saddened by this shift in the solemnity of the ritual. Traditions hold deep significance for communities, and deviations from the expected solemnity may be perceived as disrespectful or trivializing the religious aspect of the practice.

The evolution of the ‘Pabasa’ into something resembling a singing contest reflects broader societal changes, including the influence of social media and popular culture. While some may embrace this modernization as a way to engage younger generations, others may lament the loss of tradition and the sanctity associated with it.

Amidst these changes, it’s essential to remember the roots and purpose of the ‘Pabasa’ – to reflect on and commemorate the suffering of Christ during Holy Week. Finding a balance between tradition and modern expression can help preserve the integrity and significance of this sacred ritual for future generations.

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