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Posts Tagged ‘candles’

If it’s Sunday, it must be market day in Tlacolula de Matamoros. However, yesterday wasn’t just any Sunday. The second Sunday in October marks the community’s most important feast day — honoring El Señor de Tlacolula.

Marmota at rest in the church atrium.

As with all patronal festivals, this one lasts several days. In addition to Sunday’s masses, the highlights were a calenda through the streets on Friday featuring marmotas (giant and tiny), several bands, the image of Christ, and women carrying baskets atop their heads. On Saturday night here was a castillo and fireworks.

Order of delegations for the calenda.

In the back of my mind, I knew it would be crowded, but I was amazed at how many people had already poured into Tlacolula by 9:30 AM. It was hard to navigate one’s way to the market as, besides masses of people, a carnival had been set up along the main street and a side street or two.

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Señor de Tlacolula decorations at the entrance to Templo de la Virgen de la Asunción.

The church, Templo de la Virgen de la Asunción, was teeming with an overflow crowd of the faithful listening to mass being said from the side chapel of El Señor de Tlacolula. Legend has it that when this sculpture of Jesus, being brought south by muleteers in the sixteenth century, arrived in Tlacolula for a rest stop, overnight it gained so much weight that in the morning it could no longer be lifted. A miracle! Thus it was decided a chapel should be built to house the sculpture right on the spot.

Capilla de Señor de Tlacolula, the faithful wait to touch the image.

What a chapel it is! A feast for the eyes from floor to ceiling, filled with gold and silver gilding, carved angels and saints, paintings, and mirrors. On this day, pews had been removed so worshipers could have a personal interaction with the Lord of Tlacolula. In addition, an altar and hundreds of folding chairs had been set up in the atrium for an outdoor mass.

In the atrium, the altar on a replica of the church.

The art of the fiesta has been debased almost everywhere else, but not in Mexico. There are few places in the world where it is possible to take part in a spectacle like our great religious fiestas with their violent primary colors, their bizarre costumes and dances, their fireworks and ceremonies and their inexhaustible welter of surprises: the fruit, candy, toys and other objects sold on these days in the plazas and open-air markets. Octavio Paz, The Labyrinth of Solitude.

Mural on outside wall of the market.

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On Sunday in San Juan Guelavía for the Feria del Carrizo in the municipal plaza, the sounds of a procession drew me next door to the church.

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A procession!  I’m not sure if the occasion had anything to to with patron saint, San Juan Bautista.  However, what I do know is that I love being surprised and delighted by Oaxaca — a place I am proud to now call home.

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Last night, just about this time, a posada through the calles of Teotitlán del Valle was arriving at the home where Mary and Joseph would find shelter for the night.  Each night, images of Mary and Joseph wander the streets looking for refuge.  The posadas began on December 15 and will last through December 24, la última posada, and the arrival of Jesus.

Women arriving at the home where Mary & Joseph spent the previous night.

Women and men arrive at the home where Mary and Joseph had spent the previous night.

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Prayers are said in front of the images of Mary and Joseph and then women line up on one side and men on the other, as the procession begins.

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There is a band.  Actually, there are two bands.  The first, at the front of the procession, plays a dirge-like tune and the second, back near the statues of Mary and Joseph, plays marching music (think, John Philip Sousa).

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Naturally, there are fireworks.  These are the pyrotechnic guys, waiting to lead the parade.

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Mary and Joseph en route.  Please note, they are carried by young, and from what I was told, unmarried women.

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Primarily lit by elaborate beeswax velas labradas (carved candles), the procession wound its way through Teotitlán del Valle.

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Through the uneven cobblestone streets, young and old walked for over two hours.  It was massive and it seemed as if the entire village was either in the parade or watching.

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Eventually, we arrived at the home where Mary and Joseph would be given refuge for this night.  There was no mistaking this was the destination — it was lit up like a Christmas tree.

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Inside, there was more religious ritual, but outside, there were sparklers!

(ps)  If anyone has any tips for taking photos of nighttime processions of people under challenging lighting conditions, please feel free to offer your suggestions.  Muchisimas gracias.

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I’m looking at the beautiful faces of the children from Wednesday’s The kids are all right post and my heart is breaking for the children of Connecticut and the world — that they are the innocent victims of a planet consumed with violence.

Candle surrounded by wax flowers.

A candle in the Templo de la Preciosa Sangre de Cristo, Teotitlán del Valle.

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