Thousands of women dressed in luxurious "polleras" paraded this Saturday through Las Tablas Street, considered the cradle of Panamanian folklore, enchanting nationals, and foreigners, among them pilgrims who await the arrival of Pope Francis for the World Youth Day.
While hundreds disembarked by airports, ports, and land borders for two days to participate with Francisco in the World Youth Day (WYD) from January 22, nearly 150,000 people, according to the Tourism Authority of Panama, gathered in Las Tablas, about 300 kilometers southwest of the Panamanian capital, for the "Parade of the Thousand Polleras."
A radiant sun accompanied the 20-block tour through the small town with fifty organized delegations and women, many with their husbands, paid tribute to the national dress, adorned with jewelry and shawls according to tradition.
Embroidered on fine white fabrics, the "pollera," according to historians, is inspired by the dress of the regions of Seville and Andalusia that colonizers' women brought to Panama during the sixteenth century.
The hand-embroidery delicacy, which takes more than a year in some cases, the braids, are crowned with shaking of fish scales and pearls, earrings, combs, fine necklaces, bracelets, and a golden ring, accompanied by the slippers of corduroy of the main color of the embroideries.
In addition, each region of the country has its own variety of "pollera," both from the jungle of Darien, bordering Colombia, through the Caribbean of Colon and Bocas del Toro and returning to Chiriqui, Veraguas, Coclé, Los Santos, and Herrera, culminating with the one of Panama West and the province of Panama.
Since midday, the delegations began to parade, among which many teenagers were present, and they have already learned to value the national costume and its correct use -because it has its historical rules-, that is applauded by thousands of attendees, stationed in the villages of the narrow streets of Las Tablas.
The Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) designated veteran folk musician Osvaldo Ayala standard bearer of the parade.
Ayala, after thanking the distinction, told ACAN-EFE that the activity "shows the world the beauty of the typical Panamanian costume and our culture, our music, and all the values we have."
The musician estimated that "more than 15,000 "polleras" are going to parade, overcoming the parade last year and stressed that "it is a beautiful coincidence with the WYD because in the framework of this festivity of the "polleras" pilgrims are here enjoying all these traditions.
The Central American country Minister of Tourism of, Gustavo Him, told ACAN-EFE that "the expectation is that more than 150,000 people attend, and to have an economic outflow of more than 13 million dollars, which are spread throughout the region."
He said that hotel occupancy reached "100 percent "in the center of the country, where Las Tablas is located and has generated intense work by artisans to have ready all the skirts required, "which is the most beautiful costume in the world."
Just as the WYD young pilgrims are mixed with the parishioners, the Panamanian politicians, with their beautifully dressed wives, prepare to pay tribute to the typical national costume and plunge into the crowd a few weeks before the electoral campaign for the elections of next May 5.
It is estimated that the parade, in its ninth edition, will culminate at dusk, because the "polleras" are accompanied by tunas, allegorical cars, and fireworks display.