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RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES,

35

life-size wax figure of the Saviour. There are also life-size figures of Mary, St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. John, each mounted on a car, and each car illuminated by one hundred tapers, which are set in candelabras of silver, and borne by sixteen men. Incense is burned, a chant is sung accompanied by the organ, and at the ringing of a small bell, all rise from their knees; the bell rings again, and the procession moves. The ass is first led out, followed by the figures of Mary and the Apostles in order; next, the band of music and the procession follows, which is illuminated by innumerable tapers. They move toward the main gate, all joining in the chant. The passage of the first of the procession through the gate, is announced by the simultaneous discharge of rockets which illumine the very heavens. The discharging of rockets is continued, and, after passing through the principal streets, they return to the church and deposit the images. They again return to the city, seize an effigy of Judas Iscariot and after hanging it up by the neck, cut it down and burn it. The celebration closes with the usual night procession of nuns and priests. These celebrations and processions are conducted with the greatest solemnity, the people all engaging in them as if they thought them indispensable to salvation.

The priests are quite ultra in their dress, wearing a black silk gown, falling below the knee, black silk tights, patent-leather shoes, fastened with immense silver buckles, a black hat, the brim of the most ungovernable dimensions, rolled up at the sides and fastened on the top of the crown. Their zeal in religion is equalled only by their passion for gaming and cock-fighting. It appears strange to see men of their holy calling enter the ring with a cock under each arm, gafted for the sanguinary conflict, and, when the result is doubtful, enter into a most unharmonious wrangle, with the faithful under their charge.

The citizens of Panama are composed of all grades of color, from the pure Sambo, (former slaves or their descendants,) to the pure Castilian. The distinctive lines of society are not very tightly drawn. At the fandangoes all colors are represented, and a descendant of Spain will select, as a partner, one of the deepest dye. In this hot climate the waltz or quadrille soon throws all parties into a most profuse perspiration, which causes that other characteristic of the African race to manifest itself. I would recommend my American friends to select partners of the lighter color, as I am not prepared to say the odor is altogether pleasant. The order of the evening is to fill the floor; the music and dance commence; when a gentleman gives out, another takes his partner, and so on, until it is time for refreshments. The ladies never tire.

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