Gritería Chiquita o de “Penitencia” (A clamour to the Virgin Mary)
Nicaragua is a country of traditions and culture. Even nowadays with this globalization, the unique traditions from the Nicas survive these times and thanks to the efforts of young and old people, they have become as part of the very essence of our culture.
One of these traditions is the Gritería Chiquita o de “Penitencia” (A clamor to the Virgin Mary)
Nicaragua has been a Catholic village by excellence and devotee of the Virgin Mary. The tradition of the “Griteria” or “Purísima” dates back to 1857, but this magnanimous celebration held in December coinciding with the Catholic celebration of the immaculate Conception of Mary. (Immaculate = “Pursísima”)
The “Gritería Chiquita” has a closer source: by the year 1947, and faced with a series of volcanic eruptions of Cerro Negro, an active volcano near the city of Leon, Bishop Isidro Oviedo y Reyes, invited the people of Leon to join in prayer to Mary and to build up altars with the image of the Virgen, praying for the culmination of the eruptions. So they offer to the Virgin to celebrate something like the “Gritería” to the Immaculate, but this one will be like penance, delivering as “Gorra”, Holy cards of the Virgin. This order became with the years in a tradition for the “Leoneses” until today. There are some houses that also celebrate it in other cities of the country, but its maximum expression is in our beloved city of Leon each August 14th.
Today there is no penance and the Holy cards were replaced with any details that devotees want to share with people. People go on a pilgrimage streets shouting from altar to altar: “Quién causa tanta alegría? La Asunción the María” (Who causes so much joy? The Assumption of Mary! ) This is another change that match with the Catholic´s celebrations: in December the phrase that is heard is: who causes so much joy? The Conception of Mary!
As in many of the local festivities the town is filled with friends and strangers and will be very common to hear throughout the night, very noisy fireworks. All begins at 6:00 pm in the atrium of the Basilica Catedral, when the Bishop gives the first clamour of joy and the whole town gathered replied in unison: the Assumption of Mary!
*The” Purismas” are known for the “Gorra”. The gorra is the toast that receive the devotees that walk around the streets celebrating the Virgin. The traditional “Gorras” were traditional local sweets, then they were replaced by common items like matches, etc. Many people choose to deliver supplies of basic grains but what most abundant are the candies and sweets.