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Posts Tagged ‘castillo’

Today is the culmination of the ten days of festivities celebrating El Señor del Rayo — an only-in-Oaxaca observance.  Early Saturday evening, on my way to an event at the Museo Textil, I ran into a calenda (parade) of his.  I was going in the opposite direction and felt like I was swimming upstream.  What to do?  Stop, take a few photos, and enjoy the music and dancing until it passed by, of course!

El Señor del Rayo is a wood-carved Christ on the Cross figure that was brought from Spain in the 16th century, a gift to Oaxaca from Charles V.  The image was placed in the temple of San Juan de Dios, a church with adobe walls and a straw (or possibly wood) roof.  According to religious lore, lightning struck the church and everything was destroyed, save for this figurine.  A miracle!  The statue became known as El Señor del Rayo (the Lord of Lightning), was given his own chapel (the furthest capilla from the main entrance on the left) in the newly built Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, and has been much venerated ever since.

El Señor has a body double as the original, given it’s importance and value, remains behind glass in his chapel (first photo above).  Today, the line of faithful waiting to worship him stretched into the aisle leading to his chapel.  Restoration work was done on his replica earlier this year, but it is back on the main altar and available to travel through the streets during this afternoon’s procession, along with the estandartes (religious banners) currently leaning up against the inner walls of the Cathedral.

Tonight, like all good Oaxaca celebrations, be they religious or secular, there will be pirotécnicos — fireworks and all things pyrotechnic, including a castillo.  For the uninitiated, a castillo is a multi-story erector set like structure with moving parts that is wired with colorful explosive charges.  Another noisy night in Oaxaca!

By the way, in previous years, the inside of the Cathedral was festooned from bottom to top with lilies — greeting all who enter with Divine beauty and fragrance.  However, this year there are many fewer floral decorations and no lilies.  I’m wondering if the lily-growing region was affected by the hurricanes and/or earthquakes….

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If you want an up close and personal fireworks experience, come to Oaxaca.  Of course, there are no guarantees you won’t find yourself in the line of fire.  No barricades, no yellow caution tape, no police!  I’ve seen hair singed, had a friend get pinhole burns on the inside of his glasses, and last night a projectile came careening toward us and had me ducking for cover.  However, as the saying goes, “no harm, no foul” and the spectacle was espectacular!

P1100852 cropIt began with 45+ minutes of the quema de toritos and angelitos.

They were followed by a spectacular castillo, a “firefall,” and traditional fireworks exploding against a clear black sky.

P1100930Late Tuesday night during this week’s fiesta honoring la Preciosa Sangre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo.  It was a fabulous — well worth spending the night in Teotitlán and staying up way past my bedtime!

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My morning caller flew the coop and so did I.  After being confined to quarters for the past several days due to the rain and gloom, I walked downtown.

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Also, I was curious as to the state of the Zócalo, in light of the teachers, ambulantes, and the annual reenactment of “el Grito de Independencia” by the Governor, from the balcony of the Government Palace, at 11 PM tonight.

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I found, except for a handful of tents and tarps, the Alameda and Zócalo were back to normal.

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Castillos were being constructed on either side of the Government Palace.

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And, like every year, the Mexican flag was flying high, green, white, and red lights and banners were strung, and images of the heroes of the Mexican War of Independence from Spain decorated the front of the Palacio de Gobierno

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Most of the teachers and ambulantes have departed and all is being readied for el Grito de Independencia 2014.  And, nobody seems to miss the State Police, who are staging a “work stoppage.”   Ahhh, Oaxaca…  Ya gotta love her!

El Grito de Independencia
¡Mexicanos!
¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron la patria y libertad!
¡Viva Hidalgo!
¡Viva Morelos!
¡Viva Josefa Ortíz de Dominguez!
¡Viva Allende!
¡Viva Galeana y los Bravo!
¡Viva Aldama y Matamoros!
¡Viva la Independencia Nacional!
¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!

In English
Mexicans!
Long live the heroes that gave us the Fatherland (and liberty)!
Long live Hidalgo!
Long live Morelos!
Long live Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez!
Long live Allende!
Long live Galeana and the Bravos!
Long live Aldama and Matamoros!
Long live National Independence!
Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico!

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The announcement came at midnight with the ringing of the Cathedral’s bells and explosions of cohetes (rockets).  Today el Señor del Rayo is having his day!  Like Guelaguetza, Noche de Rabanós (Night of the Radishes), and Día de la Samaritana (Good Samaritan Day), this is an “only in Oaxaca” celebration.

Señor del Rayo crucifix surrounded by lilies.

The carving of Christ on the Cross was brought to Oaxaca during the 16th century and was placed in the temple of San Juan de Dios, a church which had adobe walls and a straw (or possibly wood) roof.  Legend has it that lightning struck the church and everything was destroyed, save for this figurine.  Un milagro!  It was christened Señor del Rayo (Lord of Lightning), was given its own chapel in the newly built cathedral, and has been much venerated ever since.

Pillars covered in multicolored lilies

On Sunday, October 21, el Señor del Rayo is moved from his capilla (last chapel on the left) to the main altar.  The cathedral fills with lilies (the scent “breathtaking”), and the faithful flock to pray before Señor del Rayo.  When one inhales the fragrance, one exhales a heavenly, “ahhhh…”

Close-up of orange, yellow, and lavender lilies covering a pillar

Like all good Mexican celebrations, be they religious or secular, there will be pirotécnicos tonight.  Toritos de luces (little paper-mache bulls wired with fireworks) have begun gathering.

Papermache bull (tornito)

And, as I write, the frame of the castillo below has been raised to its “upright and locked position,” its various spinning appendages have been affixed, and gunpowder tracks are waiting to be lit.

Main structure of a "castillo" laying on its side.

Alas, the action doesn’t begin until around 10:00 PM.  The spirit is willing, but it’s been a busy day, and this “too too solid flesh” is looking forward to melting into her bed.  Think I’ll just watch the fireworks from the terrace.  I know, what a wimp!!!

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It’s been a week since the end of Semana Santa and I’m still sorting through photos and videos and reflecting on impressions and feelings.  However, I’m finding that, with too much thinking, the experience slips through the fingers and the magic vanishes.

Thus, I give you the night of Pascuas (Easter) at Carmen Alto…

And then, the hisses, bangs, and brilliant explosions of a castillo…

Flaming castillo

brought Semana Santa to a spectacular close.

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Saturday night’s full moon wasn’t the only activity in the night sky.

Major celebrating had been going on in the Plaza de la Danza since early morning… flinchers (all boom, no sparkle), bells of Templo de San José clanging every hour, and live music.

At 9 PM, I heard the unmistakable hisses and pops from a castillo.  Turning my attention from looking east at the moon, I turned west and saw…

Castillo at Plaza de la Danza

Debris began raining down on Casita Colibrí and I retreated under the tin roof.  Sunday morning’s evidence on the terrace told the story…

Debris from castillo

… and sheesh, it was plastic!!!

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