The Creativity Behind the ‘Bobolee’
It’s Easter weekend in T&T and many traditions abound. The one that certainly stands out year after year is the beating of the Good Friday bobolee.
Did you know that the bobolee was originally used as an effigy of Judas Iscariot? This effigy was usually made up of old clothes stuffed with rags and straw and was then placed in a public space, either hanging from a post or sitting in a chair. Anyone passing by the bobolee on Good Friday took the opportunity to beat it with a stick, bat or any other object that they may have at hand. This beating symbolized retribution for Judas’ betrayal.
This tradition has evolved over the years as the bobolee is now used as a symbol of anything that society deems popular or unpopular, from political issues to controversial personalities or even personal grievances.
Every year, in Maraval village, the creativity of the villagers come to the fore as they continuously try to outdo themselves. There is even a bobolee wedding complete with ceremony, procession and reception.
Mr. William Boisselle has been coordinating this unique tradition for over 30 years. When asked why he does it he simply replied, “It’s to keep the tradition alive”. Mr. Boisselle also stated that this Good Friday tradition is dying and as citizens we need to do our part to keep this creative side of Trinidad and Tobago alive.
The most memorable part of the tradition, according to Mr. Boisselle, is seeing the children in the village, some as young as six years old, lining up to take turns to beat the bobolee. For him, this tradition brings people together in order to highlight some of the issues within society and symbolically fight for the betterment of the nation.
This year, the wedding and beating of the bobolee will take place from 3:30 p.m. on Good Friday at #1 Clovis Street, Maraval; the procession would then be led around the Queen’s Park Savannah. This event is open to the public.