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Posts Tagged ‘animals’

Yesterday was another special Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) in San Antonino Castillo Velasco.  This is a Zapotec village famous for the cultivation of flowers and exquisitely embroidered blouses and dresses, inspired by said flowers.  Returning year-after-year, I never cease to be uplifted by the warmth of the people and the bounty they bring to the image of San Salvador sitting atop his little burro outside the panteón.  The best of their fruits, vegetables, herbs, livestock, clothing, flowers, and much more are gratefully received by a committee, priced, and later-in-the-day, sold to raise money for a designated project.

A little after noon, San Salvador (his burro now filled to the brim), offerings, and the faithful were blessed by the priest.  Fireworks exploded, rhythmic sounds of the traditional teponaxtles (drums) and chirimía (small oboe) sounded, and led by a trail of bougainvillea bracts and the smoke of copal, the litter of San Salvador atop the burro and carried by 30+ men, set off on a journey to the atrium of the church.  They were followed by villagers and visitors carrying the remainder of the goods collected — a ritual reenactment of the Biblical story of Jesus entering Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

The procession successfully navigated overhead wires above and heeded warnings of “topes” (speed bumps) below.  A kilometer down this perilous route, San Salvador and the faithful, young and old, approached the atrium of the church, San Salvador was set on the stage where an outdoor mass was to be said, and on the opposite side, the hand-and-head-carried offerings were to be sold.  I cannot begin to express how warm and welcoming the people of San Antonino Castillo Velasco were.  Wearing a blusa from San Antonino, that I purchased several years ago, I was smiled upon and, as I was taking photos, officials and other villagers ushered me to the front.  Again, I ask, how many magical moments can one person have?

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Under a cloudy sky, the faithful and their mascotas (pets) gathered in the plaza in front of the Templo de Nuestra Señora de la Merced for the Bendición de los Animales (Blessing of the Animals).
Human and dog faces
This annual event, held on August 31, celebrates the feast day of San Ramón de Nonato (aka, St. Raymond Nonnatus), patron saint of women in labor, persons falsely accused, and keeper of animals.  This last, though not often mentioned, seems to come from the story that he was raised on a farm and, according to this website, “chose for his occupation the care of the sheep, in order to gain more time for prayer and meditation.”  Today’s El Imparcial states that La Merced is the only church in the city with an image of the saint.
Figure of San Ramón Nonato
Here in Oaxaca, instead of sheep, San Ramón was surrounded by dogs of all sizes, shapes, and temperament.  By far, they outnumbered all other animal species put together — except humans.  Over the past few years, there has been a noticeable increase in pet (as opposed to roof and street) dogs in Oaxaca.  Perhaps a sign of a growing middle class?  And, many dressed for the occasion.  However this dalmatian must have also paid a visit to a makeup artist.  Lipstick on the collar (muzzle, forehead, and ear) of a new friend tells the tale (tail?).
2 dogs nuzzle to nuzzle
There were also the other usual pet suspects — cats and kittens, though most looked like they would like to be anywhere else but there, and canaries and cockatiels, the latter both in cages and perched on shoulders.  This guy seemed more interested in the pin-up girl lining his cage than getting blessed by a few drops of holy water from the temple’s priest, Víctor Hernández Antonio.
Parakeet in cageHowever, my vote for the most exotic pet of the day goes to the hurón, known in English as a ferret.  Oh those piercing eyes and those claws.  I’d hate to get on her wrong side!
Ferret with red bow on head
I wonder…  What do you think the abuelas and abuelos, who remembered the old days when it was donkeys, goats and farm animals who were led along Oaxaca’s dirt streets to be blessed, thought?

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A Sunday scene in the zócalo…

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Happiness is a warm puppy.  — Charles M. Schulz

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… and fish and turtles and ducks.  On August 31, as the rain fell, all of the above and more, assembled at Templo de Nuestra Señora de la Merced for the annual Bendición de los Animales.  Animals and their human keepers were there to celebrate the feast day of San Ramón de Nonato, patron saint of women in labor, persons falsely accused, and keeper of animals.

There were some familiar faces, both human and animal, from last year’s blessing.  However, this year the dogs were extremely vocal and, on occasion, tested the strength of the human at the other end of their leash — perhaps it was in anticipation of the evening’s “blue moon” or maybe being restrained and made to just sit or stand in the rain made them grouchy.

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This morning’s article in Noticias covering the blessing, led off  with this quote from Benito Juárez García:

La protección de los animales forma parte esencial de la moral y de la cultura de los pueblos civilizados.  (The protection of animals is an essential part of morality and culture of civilized people.)

For more on this year’s Blessing of the Animals, head over to Oaxaca-The Year After.

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