Sunday, April 5, 2015

Photo Essay: Blessed Are the Animals

Since 1930, Los Angeles has hosted the Blessing of the Animals parade and ceremony the Saturday before Easter at El Pueblo de Los Angeles, by Olvera Street and across from Union Station. For this, the 85th year, Archbishop Jose Gomez sprinkled holy water on LA area farm animals and pets as a token of gratitude for always bringing us so much joy. Although primarily a Catholic tradition, anyone of any faith can come and have pretty much any animal blessed for fertility and health.



Even a llama named Rama.



The event begins with some dance performances, mariachis and caballeros...



...Mexican cowboys with their wide-brimmed hats...



...mounted upon beautiful horses.



Traditionally, the procession to the archbishop's post on a makeshift altar in the middle of the street is led by a cow (this year, a pregnant one named Surapa)...



...and followed by other farm animals...



...and livestock...



...mostly courtesy of the folks at Zorthian Ranch in Pasadena...



...who have participated in the event for over 60 years.



The caged chickens seemed a little suspicious of the celebration...



...and perhaps even annoyed.



In a tradition that dates back to the 4th Century, which honors the animals for their service to the human race...



...participating animals and their human companions are typically adorned with flowers...



...other otherwise elaborately decorated and costumed.



But in modern times, the only accoutrement that's really necessary is a leash.



There is so much excitement at this event...



...it's amazing that any of these animals can keep calm when surrounded by so many other creatures.



But the Blessing of the Animals has the serenity of a religious ceremony...



...combined with the spirit of a community party.



SO MANY FACES TO SMOOSH.



SO MUCH FLUFFY FUR.



SO MANY TONGUES STICKING OUT.



SO MANY BOWS AND FLOWERS.



SO MUCH SWADDLING.



Although people most commonly bring dogs to be blessed...



...cats are also welcome...



...as are birds...



...of any and all varieties...



...as long as they won't fly away.



The archbishop will also bless plenty of turtles, iguanas, and lizards (brought mostly by children)...



...as well as the occasional boa constrictor.

Fortunately, they've got plenty of holy water to go around, and the archbishop said his pitching arm wouldn't get tired, because this was part of his Spring Training.

The Blessing of the Animals is quite the opportunity to literally reach out and touch your community. Almost everybody lets you stroke and cuddle their pets, as long as the pets permit. And usually they do, with much gusto – giving kisses and snuggles to any willing participant. And these are the blessings you get by attending, even if you don't have an animal companion.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Blessings for the Poor in Spirit
Compton's Hidden Agricultural Riches: Richland Farms