Virgen de la Balma Celebrations
On 8 September every year, hundreds of believers travel to this special shrine for the ceremonies that commemorate the apparition of the Virgen de La Balma in the 13th century.
A one-armed shepherd from Zorita was left dazzled by a strange light that emanated from the rocks. It blessed him and miraculously, gave him back his missing arm. The shepherd brought the vow of devotion and protection back to the residents of Zorita, who have worshipped the Virgen de La Balma for the past eight centuries. On 7 September, a statue of the Virgin is taken from the village up to Las Eras in a nocturnal procession, where a priest welcomes them with a loa, or a short religious poem.
In Las Eras, the traditional dances “Les Llauradores”, “Les Gitanetes” and “Els Negrets” take place, and then the procession takes the Virgin up to the village church. At the door of the church, a different priest reads another loa before the people enter. On 8 September, at first light, the procession leaves and goes to La Balma (this procession used to be completed entirely on foot).
At the door of the church, an angel reads another loa, and then the procession rearranges itself in the following order: the Dolçainer and the Tabaleter (one who plays an instrument similar to an oboe, and a drummer), then the “Els Negrets” dancers, followed by the “Les Llauradores”, and finally, “Les Gitanetes”. Upon reaching the Cruz Cubierta, or the wayside cross, the aforementioned groups begin their dance. However, the “Dimoni de La Balma”, the La Balma demon, appears and attempts to prevent the procession from passing. It is dressed in a traditional demon’s costume, with serpents and insects hanging from its clothing. At this point, the famous fight between the Angel and the Devil takes place. The angel eventually wins, allowing the procession to continue onto La Balma. There used to be four dances: the Dance of the Shepherds, the Els Negrets Dance, the Les Llauradores Dance and the Dance of the Virgins. Today, all of the dances still take place apart from the Dance of the Virgins.