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5/8/2014 7:33:00 AM
Dyed sawdust 'carpet' has religious themes
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish

ALOHA — One of the more distinctive Holy Week customs in western Oregon was followed at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish here. A group of Catholics with Guatemalan roots spent about 10 hours creating a dyed sawdust “carpet” with religious themes on the concrete plaza outside the church.

The practice is carried out all over Guatemala City in the days after Palm Sunday and before Good Friday, when the colorful carpets are swept away. During much of Holy Week, the streets of the old city are blocked from drivers while the carpets are in place.
The Aloha design included flower shapes, the Eucharist and a dove representing the Holy Spirit. The half-dozen artists spent six so seven hours dying sawdust and about three and a half hours carefully dropping it to create the pictures. The design had to be kept damp so the wind would not carry it away.

But on Good Friday, the artists scooped up the sawdust.

“It represents the fact that only God can really destroy,” says Cindy Samayoa, the 25-year-old parish secretary who was born in the U.S. but raised in Guatemala. “These carpets are made out of what the earth gave us — sawdust, natural die, fruits and flowers.”

This is the first time the Guatemalans have created the Holy Week carpet, but it will not be the last. Samayoa says part of the intrigue is keeping people guessing from year to year about what the design will be.  

Parishioners were delighted and asked the artists many questions.







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