|Parang for evangelisation – Dec 9|
By Vernon Khelawan
With about two weeks to go before we celebrate the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, there is feverish activity in homes all over the country as people make the usual pre-Christmas preparations.
In the midst of all this, we hear Parang – and its “Triniesque” crossover Soca Parang. Attention must be paid to the relationship between parang and Christmas.
This year particularly, as greater emphasis is being placed on the Second Pastoral Priority as mandated by Synod 2009 – Revitalising Catholic Culture and Identity, authentic parang must of necessity have a special meaning, if for no other reason than its role in evangelisation.
Parang in its original form, or as we in Trinidad and Tobago know it, was like personal mobile concerts, when small groups of persons moved from village to village on foot, announcing the coming of the Saviour, through music and song.
Since many of the house visits were nocturnal, the paranderos, as they are still called, would arrive at a door and sing a “wake up” song (levanta), asking the family to get up and allow them into the home to deliver the good news of Christmas – in song. Once inside, they would then sing about the birth of Christ, eat, drink and then leave singing a departure song (despedida). It was then off to the next house. This continued for weeks in many areas all over the country.
Parang, with its Spanish lyrics, was an authentic evangelisation tool in those days. There are a lot of parang songs which might even be called Christmas hymns, since the genre was sub-divided. There are songs heralding the Annunciation (anunciacion); there are those which relate to the birth of Jesus (nascimiento); those which ask for peace and serenity for the home that is hosting the group (serenal); and then the exit songs (despedia).
Unfortunately, the pre-Christmas season has become very materialistic in our Archdiocese, with great emphasis being placed on food and drink, gifts, office parties, decorations, fetes, etc., rather than on authentic preparation for the coming of Christ.
Parang can help point us in the right direction and must take its place as a genuine element of our Catholic culture and identity – and a great evangelisation tool.