“Rifa” and “Bajá” of Our Lady of the Holy Fountain. August. Unique Festival
This festival has been declared to be of Tourist Interest by the Provincial Council of Málaga.
Please check with the local Town Hall or Municipal Tourism Office for the festival date before planning any sightseeing activities.
This event had its origins in the 16th century, during which the worship and devotion to the Virgen de la Fuensanta (Our Lady of the Holy Fountain), patron saint of Pizarra, commences. A property record document from 1664 belonging to the Nuestra Señora de la Fuensanta shrine already mentions the existence of “new pinewood platforms”—in other words, it was customary to carry the image of the Virgin on a trono (float) both for the transfer of the image to the village and for the procession through it.
The “Bajá” (“Descent” in Spanish) is carried out every 14th of August, transporting the image of the Virgen de la Fuensanta—patron saint and perpetual mayoress of Pizarra—from its shrine on the slope of the Sierra de Gibralmora to the Parish Church of San Pedro Apóstol in the town centre. Eight devoted bearers carry the image along a sandy path from where one can enjoy an unparalleled panoramic view over the Guadalhorce Valley. Upon arrival, a welcoming Mass featuring the Nuestra Señora de la Fuensanta Choir is celebrated, marking the end of the traditional “Bajá de la Virgen de la Fuensanta”.
In the morning of the 15th of August, a solemn religious ceremony is held at the Iglesia de San Pedro Apóstol church. In the evening takes place the procession of Nuestra Señora de la Fuensanta through the streets of Pizarra, during which the long-established “Rifa” (“Raffle” in Spanish) is held—a unique tradition unlike any other in the province of Málaga.
The raffle allows all devotees to compete for the float beams by using the tickets purchased shortly before or during the procession to the Brotherhood. Tickets have the symbolic price of 20 cents. With the cry of “¡Alto!” (“Halt!” in Spanish), several villagers tuck in their shoulders under the poles and carry the Virgen de la Fuensanta for only a few seconds until they hear “¡Alto!” again. This is how they claim their right to experience the honour and pride in carrying their patron saint. Once, Brotherhood sold a total of 4,360 tickets.
After the float has reached its destination, the religious ceremonies of the Feria are concluded, and the most fun part takes over until the 18th of August. A wide range of activities can be enjoyed throughout the village at any time, day or night, and plenty of visitors come to the Pizarra Fair to make the most of this festivity.