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Posts Tagged ‘Fiesta de la Virgen del Rosario’

Yesterday, after missing the Fiesta de la Natividad because I was in the middle of my 6-week cross-country sojourn in el norte, I managed (courtesy of blogger buddy Chris and his trusty VW Jetta) to make it out to Teotitlán del Valle for the last day of the Fiesta de La Virgen del Rosario and performance of the Danza de la Pluma.

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Sergio Gutiérrez Bautista (Moctezuma)

The dance is day-long and recreates the Spanish Conquest from the Zapotec point of view.

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Quetzali del Rayo Santiago Ruiz (Malinche)

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Elizabeth Hernández Gutiérrez (Doña Marina)

Miracle of miracles, the rain held off, the clouds parted, and the sun made a much welcome appearance.

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Foreground:  Marcos Vicente Gutiérrez (Capitán 1 ro.)

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Foreground:  Edgar Daniel Ruiz Ruiz (Vasallo 8vo.)

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As we approached the atrium of the Templo Preciosa Sangre de Cristo, the father of one of the Danzantes explained a venue change — due to some (hopefully) minimal earthquake damage to one of the bell towers of the church, the Danza de la Pluma was moved next door to the plaza in front of the municipal building.

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Juan Bautista Ruiz (Subalterno)

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Florentino Martínez Ruiz (Subalterno) and Señor Inocencio

A heartfelt muchisimas gracias to the people of Teotitlán del Valle, many of whom I am so lucky and grateful to call friends.  The warm welcome I received was such an incredible tonic to the grey days we have been experiencing in Oaxaca.

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Festival fireworks in Oaxaca are usually 3-part affairs, consisting of toritos (little bulls) and/or canastas (baskets) wired with fireworks and worn on top of the head by daring-do guys (toritos) and gals (canastas).  This is followed by a castillo (castle) and then the more familiar rockets-exploding-in-the-sky fireworks most of us have craned our necks and oooh-ed and ahhh-ed over since childhood.  Sometimes the order of the latter two is reversed.

The subject of today’s blog post is the castillo that was constructed and executed this past Saturday by “los maestros pirotécnicos los C. Rigoberto y Dagoberto Morales” for the festival in honor of the  Santisima Virgen del Rosario (Sainted Virgin of the Rosary) in Teotitlán del Valle.  They and their crew went about the business of constructing and wiring this “Erector Set” type castillo out of wood and carrizo in the church courtyard.

I couldn’t resist playing with the saturation on this photo.  In my mind’s eye, this is the way it looked.IMG_9957satAnd, de-saturating this one against the backdrop of El Picacho, the sacred mountain that watches over the village.IMG_9994b&wThe result of the work by these maestros and their crew?  A spectacular castillo, accompanied by the band, Herencia Musical.  It was quite a show!!!

And, if you want to see some inside action from a torito, check out the video Chris made, Torito Danza – Dancing with Fireworks.  He actually attached a POV (Point of View) camera to the torito!!!

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Yesterday, we slowly but surely wound our way around a major blockade and made our way 20 miles southeast of the city to Tlacolula de Matamoros.  The reason for our tenacity?  Their calenda (parade) in honor of la Virgen del Rosario (Virgin of the Rosary) was happening.  A major feature, not to mention highlight, of Tlacolula festivals are the marmotas.IMG_9781

Little boys begin by carrying little marmotas; big boys carry big marmotas; and men carry gigantic marmotas.  As for the latter, the guys definitely must rely on a little help from their friends.

IMG_9824Time for change of shift…

IMG_9825New guy is helped into position.

IMG_9827That didn’t last long…

IMG_9829Time for another shift change.

IMG_9833All right!!!

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Today, in Santa Catarina Juquila, about 200 km southwest of the city of Oaxaca, la Virgen de Juquila, is receiving a papal coronation.  Roads leading to this remote mountain village have been repaired and repaved and extra emergency services have been in place since Monday, all in anticipation of the thousands of pilgrims who were expected to descend on Juquila.

However, for those who chose to stay closer to the city, celebrations in honor of the Virgen del Rosario (Virgin of the Rosary) have been occurring for the past week throughout the valley of Oaxaca.

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Thus, blogger buddy Chris and I headed to Tlacolula de Matamoros on Friday for their annual procession.

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Beginning on the street in front of the panteón, young women wearing traditional red wool skirts and beautifully crocheted white cotton blouses…

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…danced their way through the streets balancing towering canastas (baskets) on their heads — the letters spelling out “Virgen del Rosario.”

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The arm and neck strength it takes to carry the canastas is phenomenal and can only come from years of practice.  As you can see, they begin early…

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Rockets announced the procession’s arrival.

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Bandas provided the music.

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And, “boys to men” carrying marmotas two-stepped and twirled their way along the route.

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Years of practice is required to do this, too!

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Participants stop at altars throughout the village, where prayers are recited, rest breaks are taken, and tamales, sweets, and beverages (yes, including mezcal) are consumed.

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This goes on until 1:00 or 2:00 AM.  We arrived at 4:00 PM, stayed for a couple of hours, carried nothing heavier than our cameras and daypacks, and were ready to call it a day!

However, this is a bittersweet post.  While we were reveling in the festivities, a family in Tlacolula de Matamoros was in agony.  It was reported last night that 18-year old, Cristian Tomás Colón Garnica, from Tlacolula de Matamoros, is one of the 43 students at Normal Rural ‘Raúl Isidro Burgos’ in Ayotzinapa who went missing on September 26 in Iguala, Guerrero after police opened fire on the students, who were soliciting funds for an Oct. 2 demonstration protesting funding cuts to their state-financed school.

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Before returning to honor al Señor de Tlacolula this Friday, I figured I’d better finish posting pics from last Friday’s la Virgen del Rosario calenda.

This annual procession slowly winds its way through the streets of Tlacolula de Matamoros.  Participants stop at “stations” throughout the village, where religious ritual is performed, rest breaks are taken, and tamales, sweets, and beverages (yes, including mezcal) await.  This goes on until after midnight.  I don’t know how they do it!

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Yesterday, we headed about 20 miles southeast of the city to Tlacolula de Matamoros for their calenda (parade) in honor of la Virgen del Rosario (the Virgin of the Rosary).   While we go to Tlacolula often, especially for their Sunday market, and while we’ve been to countless calendas, this particular one was a first — and what fun it was!

I’m always amazed at the variations from one village to another — even those only a few miles apart.  I have to say, one of the most striking features of Tlacolula’s calenda was the masses of marmotas.  No, I’m not talking the groundhog/woodchuck variety.  These, at their most awesome, are ginormous cloth globes on a pole that are carried in every calenda I’ve ever seen down here.

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Little boys start out with little marmotas — learning how to position it in the holster and becoming comfortable carrying it for several blocks.

The pre-teens graduate to bigger and heavier marmotas and the lesson here is one of balance — learning to find one’s center — and that you get by with a little help from your friends.

Teens refine their moves and their “look.”  Look ma, no hands!  After all, a central part of the calenda is a procession of the unmarried girls and young women of the village!

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Young men eventually become good-natured and married journeymen…

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I’m guessing it never ceases being a source of macho pride — enough to tempt one of Tlacolula’s senior citizens into showing, he’s still got it!

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And then there was the gringo…

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Check out Oaxaca–The Year After for this hilarious tale in his own words.  (I’m still laughing!)

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Marmotas on parade —  it was a spectacular sight!

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It’s that time of year, again.  Daylight doesn’t last quite as long, the large red-orange blossoms of the African tulip trees have mostly fallen (onto my terrace!), and the hummingbirds have mostly departed, leaving the airspace to the dragonflies and butterflies.

Decorated canasta with religious scene.

However, the season of yellow marigolds (cempazuchitl) and the yellows, oranges, and purples of flor inmortal (immortal flower) has begun and that means Días de los Muertos and Noche de Rabanos  can’t be far behind.

Decorated canasta with image of Virgin Mary.

In the meantime, during the past week, Teotitlán del Valle celebrated La Santísima Virgen del Rosario and early Friday evening, the unmarried girls and women gathered with their canastas for the traditional convite (holy procession).

Decorated canasta with image of bandaged head of Jesus.

And, given the season, flor inmortal played a prominent role in the decorations of many of the canastas.Flor inmortal surround a crucifixion scene on a canasta.

And, as always, I’m amazed and captivated by the girls and women who, with arms raised, balance these sizable baskets on their head, as they navigate the sacred route along the cobbled (and, this day, rain-slicked) streets of Teotitlán del Valle — for almost an hour!Young women wearing dark red wool wrap skirts and embroidered white blouses, carry large canastas on their heads

It’s a scene that I never tire of — of course, I’m not carrying a canasta on my head!

More photos and commentary over at Oaxaca-The Year After.

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Sunday, Oaxaca blogger buddy Chris (Oaxaca-the-year-after) and I returned to Teotitlán del Valle for the Danza de la Pluma.  Another day awash in sights and sounds.  As I discussed in July’s post, Danza de la Pluma, it is a multi-layered ritual reenactment of the Conquest.  And, like the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany, the Danza de la Pluma lasts 7-8 hours!

Obviously, the performers occasionally need to take a break…

Subalterno laying down on the plaza

Soldaditos, need nourishment after all that marching around…

Littlest Soldadito munching on a snack

Banners need to chill on a chair…

Banner propped up on a chair

Cortes needs to take a breather from all that conquering…

Cortes resting on his throne.

Danzantes need some male bonding time…

2 Danzantes walking together

Their feathered headdresses need time off for good behavior…

Danzante feathered headdress

Malinche and Doña Marina need to share some giggles…

Malinche and Doña Marina walking and smiling together

And, even tubas need a nap…

Tuba laying on the ground.

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To borrow from Russian actor and director, Konstantin Stanislavsky, “there are no small parts, only [very] small actors.”  And the children of  Teotitlán del Valle begin learning their lines at a very young age.

They were in full view Friday night as the convite (parade) of unmarried young women and girls opened the multi-day Fiesta de la Virgen del Rosario.

Very young Zapotec girl in traditional dress.

Young boys, carrying marmotas led off the parade, that began at the pueblo’s Sangre de Cristo church.

Very young Zapotec boy carrying a small marmota

They were followed by traditional indigenous drums and a band.

Band with marmota in background

Then the stars of the evening took center stage.  From the oldest to the youngest, all were wearing the traditional red woolen skirt (woven in the village, of course!) and blouses painstakingly and lovingly hand embroidered.

Young Zapotec girl carrying canasta on her head

Arms above head, balancing their canastas, they wound their way through the slick (it was drizzling) cobblestone streets of the village for an hour, before eventually returning to the church.

Procession of young Zapotec women carrying canastas on their heads while a little white dog watches

I don’t know how they did it; even the dogs were in awe!

Sunday’s events to follow…

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