As the sun was setting, lighting up the streets of Monimbo in the most wonderful shades of yellow and orange, the volunteers made their way to celebrate La Gritería.  La Gritería is a Nicaraguan festival celebrated in the honour of the Purísima Concepción de María. This religious festival is celebrated in the majority of towns and cities of Nicaragua, having special relevance in León where it originated.  

The streets started to fill with locals, dancers and a marching band, and you could feel the joy and excitement begin to rise throughout Monimbo. The marching band was followed by school children and dancers in traditional clothing attracting everyone’s attention. The locals were walking the streets visiting different altars to sing and give thanks in honour of the Virgin Mary in particular homes. It is a tradition for everyone to make a prayer, chant, and set off many fireworks and firecrackers. 

Two national volunteers, Karen and Auxiliadora took the volunteers around and taught us to sing “Tu Gloria, Tu Gloria”. As we all stood in a queue outside a house waiting for our turn to show our respects, I could see children walking out of other houses with sweets and toys. After the locals have shown their appreciation to the Virgin Mary the household then hands out treats. The treats prepared for the occasion consist of fruits, sweets, crisps, drinks such as chicha maize and traditional dishes called nacatamal. 

Although the official celebrations are in December, it was a great insight to know how this religious festival is celebrated.

Written by ICS volunteer Harvie Chiu