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Tuesday , 27 February 2024

Sinulog: A dance that bridges the earthly and the divine

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Fr. Junray Rayna
Fr. Junray Rayna
Fr. Junray Rayna is the Parish Priest at St Kilian's Catholic Church in Bendigo, Victoria

After the festive Christmas season, the start of the year brings about more celebrations of faith that are deeply interwoven with our Filipino culture and heritage. Sinulog is one of them and not a celebration exclusive for Cebuanos, but a devotion that brings everyone together. As a Cebuano priest here in Australia, I want to bring and gather everyone for this marvellous festivity; ultimately to bring everyone to the little child Jesus. 

My devotion to Sinulog can be traced to my early childhood days, when waking up in the morning I could hear songs dedicated to the Holy Child, instead of the usual ringing of the church bells. One of them is the traditional gozos: “Batobalani sa Gugma” (Magnet of Love). What I truly love is to hear this song being sung by thousands of voices at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño in Cebu. At times, I am really moved while singing the gozos and raising my hands to the Holy Child: a humble symbolic gesture of raising my worries, my prayers, my love to God!

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Walk with Jesus procession to start the novena masses of 2024
Walk with Jesus procession to start the novena masses of 2024

This is the very heart of Sinulog: it serves as a bridge between the earthly and the divine, inviting all of us to lift up our prayers. The dance becomes a metaphor for life’s ebbs and flows, a symbolic expression of the continuous cycle of our joys, challenges, and gratitude. My hope for all the people is to see in Sinulog, to open their eyes and hearts on a deeper level: that is, to transcend from vibrant movements, colourful costumes, the traditional drumbeats and street parties to offering up all the movements of our hearts to “One Beat” of prayer.

Finally as a Cebuano priest, I am very proud of my faith that captivates different parts of the world. Cebu is the home of Sinulog; but with Sinulog, people feel at home again. Pope Francis once said that Filipinos are great “smugglers of faith”. We couldn’t keep our faith within us; we must bring it to the world with the fullness of joy, dancing, and festivities. To all communities celebrating Sinulog here in Victoria, Pit Señor!

Fr. Junray Rayna
Fr. Junray Rayna
Fr. Junray Rayna is the Parish Priest at St Kilian's Catholic Church in Bendigo, Victoria

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