The Passion of Iztapalapa is a neighborhood event. To take part in this event, one must have been born here. People say that otherwise, the original meaning of the representation would be lost.
Although not everyone can be an actor, most of the inhabitants of this region help in producing the wardrobe, in building the sets and in coordinating rehearsals.
The celebration has become so popular, that thousands of spectators congregate in this tiny district, with the results that the government authorities have had to provide public safety services, medical care and street cleaning.
On the day of the great celebration, everything is ready. The people begin to arrive early to make sure they get a good place to see.
The Way of the Cross begins around nine in the morning with the procession of the Nazarenes. These are people who are going to fulfill a manda or religious promise that some fervent Catholics make, out of gratitude for having received some favor from Jesus Christ. It is their way of showing their thanks for having been cured of some illness, for not having been injured in some accident, for having found a job, or for having stopped some vice. Each Nazarenes fulfills a promise.
In order to be a Nazarene, one does not have to have been born in the town; anyone may do so who wishes to make the trip. The only requirement is to wear the same outfit: a crown of thorns, a purplish tunic, and carry a cross. The Nazarenes are of all ages and from different regions throughout the whole country!
At the end of the Nazarenes’ procession comes Christ, carrying His cross. For the actor representing Jesus, this is a moment of truth! He begins the trip carrying more than 200 lbs. on his shoulders, before the gaze of thousands of spectators. There is always the question as to whether he will be able to carry it the entire trip, if he will bear up to the physical and emotional demands of this leading role!