Christmas marching

Christmas marching at the Kosrae Congregational Church in Kolonia. This year there were two stars from the family in the etawi srisrik marching. Stars are female unit leads in the Kosraean church marching. 

Marchers move in units. In Kosrae a typical unit might be four marchers. The strength of this arrangement is that only the lead marcher needs to know the complex marching formation. The others in the unit can simply follow along. This allows those who missed practices due to work or other obligations to join in the marching and singing - no one need feel left out.

All of the women's dresses are of the same fabric, but the styles vary. Look closely at the top image and the image above - the pleated dark green band is in a different location. Each dress is hand sewn from new material each year. And each dress looks similar and yet is unique. Individuality within group coherence. 

The men are wearing shirts that match, but a different material than that of the women. The intent is of overall color coordination between the genders. The star the men carry is called a tefuroh. The tefuroh contains a star, but is not referred to as a star.

Although not obvious in a still image, the marchers are singing songs composed new each Christmas. The songs are religious, celebrating Christmas, and are marching hymns. There are some parallels to the concepts of the bands and costumes of Mardis Gras in the Caribbean, but there are more differences than similarities.

A quick change from the green of etawi srisrik to the blue of group one blue team and this marcher is ready for another session of marching and singing.

The costume change, so to speak, had to occur in a tight five minutes between etawi srisrik and group one. 

Star responsibilities in two choirs meant practice two to three evenings a week during December, shifting to every evening this past week. Women carry the stars on poles, typically young women in their teens or twenties.

During the marching the adult women throw candy and small toys to the audience. Thus the bright glow is partly from the warmth of the air in the church, partly from sugar.

Shrue follows Bobo. The adult men and women do not usually carry stars. They are usually the vocal strength of the choir. 

At times the marchers will form shapes - letters or stars. If a letter is formed, the choir will call out a word beginning with that letter related to Christmas. These shapes cannot always be clearly discerned from the pews.

The adult women also pack arsenals of candy. This is often thrown into the air. Hard candy brings a new meaning to hard when one is hit in the head by candy rain.

After the marching is over, food is served and everyone enjoys Christmas dinner on the front porch of the church. 

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