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Posts Tagged ‘offerings’

If it’s Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday), I must be in San Antonino Castillo Velasco.  I know there must be other villages that have colorful and moving celebrations, but the magic of San Antonino compels me to return year after year.  Who can resist the spectacle outside the village panteón of watching el Señor del Burro be piled high with a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables and festooned with garlands of peppers and pan (bread)?

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And, besides, each year there is always something a little new and different.  To wit, in previous years parishioners presented their offerings with great pride to a committee of three or four women who formally received the donations, thanked the benefactors, and priced the items (for sale later in the day to benefit the work of the church).  However, this year, in addition to offering blessings, it was the priest who interceded between the donors and the pricing committee to receive and express gratitude to each person for their contribution — be they grand or humble.

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Once the young priest finished receiving the goods, he donned his ceremonial robes, offered prayers, and blessed everything (including my camera!) and everyone with holy water.  This was the cue for palm fronds to be distributed to all and the altar boys and girls and disciples to assemble.

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With the burro fully loaded, a team of 20+ extremely strong men hoisted the litter carrying the image of San Salvador atop the burro and, followed by villagers and visitors carrying the remainder of the goods collected, the journey to the church set off — a ritual reenactment of the Biblical story of Jesus entering Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.  As the procession made its way to the church, the rhythmic sounds of the drum and horn leading the way were occasionally overpowered by shouts warning the men of topes (speed bumps) and low hanging telephone wires that must be navigated.

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The route is at least a kilometer from the panteón to San Antonino Obispo church and yesterday the sun was blazing, with not a cloud in the sky.  It is a grueling act of faith for the men who bear this massive burden.  The final hurtle was making their way up the steps and under the arch leading to the church atrium, where a platform to place el Señor del Burro awaited.

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By 1:00 PM, the bounty to be sold had been hand (head) carried or trucked to the display area set up on the opposite side of the church atrium and it was time for the outdoor mass to commence.  Thus, it was also time for us to duck out to browse the accompanying expo-venta of fabulous San Antonino embroidered blouses and dresses, flor inmortal artisan creations, the amazing and ongoing work of José García Antonio, the blind potter, and lastly find our favorite empanada vendor in the maze of food and artisan stalls set up outside the atrium walls.  Yummm…

You should also check out the Oaxaca-The Year After blog– rumor has it that Chris will be posting a video of the procession in the next day or two (or three).

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Saturday, like all Mexico, Teotitlán del Valle honored the Virgen de Guadalupe.  As they do every December 12, the Danzantes de Promesa danced the Danza de la Pluma.  However, this was the last performance by this group; their three-year commitment to their god, church, and community was at an end.  And, as is their tradition, the dancers and their families offered the village food, drink, and a party to celebrate.

Dancers and their wives, parents, grandparents, godparents, sisters, brothers, and children came bearing fruits, candy, mezcal, and beer.

The children learn at an early age that it isn’t all about them — they are part of a community and have roles to play and contributions to make.

All ages and genders have a role.  The men, more often than not, get the glory but look at these women!  They radiate the strength and pride of 2000 years of Teotitlán del Valle, Zapotec history and culture.

As darkness fell and after dancing for several hours, 9-year olds, Juana Lizbeth Contreras (Malinche) and Ailani Ruiz Ruiz (Doña Marina) made the rounds of the thousands gathered on the church plaza to distribute their gifts to their community.  It was then that emotion overwhelmed me.

A profound muchisimas gracias to the people of Teotitlán del Valle for being so welcoming over the years to a couple of gringo bloggers.  Chris and I are so grateful for your generosity of spirit.  Definitely, more to come…

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Another magical Domingo de Ramos spent in San Antonino Castillo Velasco.  Experiencing Palm Sunday in this small Zapotec village never fails to nourish the soul.

A band played outside the panteón as villagers, from niños and niñas to abuelas and abuelos, arrived bringing their biggest and most beautiful fruits and vegetables, breads and baked goods, carved wooden toys and embroidered clothing, not to mention, goats, chickens, rabbits, and even a pig or two.  Three silver-haired abuelas inspected each donation; their faces expressing gratitude and appreciation for each offering, as they affixed a price tag.  Following the procession to the templo and a mass, all would be sold to raise money for the work of the church.

These were offerings to San Salvador, who sat proudly atop el Señor del Burrito, who was up to his ears in produce and bread.

At 11:00 AM, after prayers were offered in gratitude and for continued abundance in this fertile valley, led by the beat of two tambors and the high-pitched lilt of a chirimía, a procession to the church began.  Palm crosses were distributed to villagers and visitors, alike, and many carried (or led, in the case of the livestock) the offerings that had been collected.

Once secured, it took twenty men to hoist and carry the bounty-laden anda, with San Salvador and the burro, a ritual reenactment of the Biblical story of Jesus entering Jerusalem riding on a burro to celebrate the Passover.  As the procession made its way to the church, the rhythmic sounds were occasionally overpowered by shouts warning the men of topes (speed bumps) and low hanging telephone wires that must be navigated, and then there were the stairs leading up to the church atrium.

I cannot begin to express how warm and welcoming the people of San Antonino Castillo Velasco were.  Countless times, as I was taking photos, officials encouraged me to come closer and villagers ushered me to the front.  How many magical experiences can one person have?

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San Antonino Castillo Velasco continues to enchant.  What’s not to like about a village known for growing flowers, decorating graves with designs created with flor inmortal (immortal flowers) during Día de los Muertos, and floral designs executed in exquisite embroidery?!!

Then there is Palm Sunday and the tradition of gathering at the panteón, loading El Señor del Burrito with locally grown bounty, blessing by the priest, an incense led procession carrying it to the church, and then selling it to raise money for a local orphanage.

It never ceases to amaze!  The produce loaded onto the Little Burro, along with the overflow, was fantastic — enormous cabbages, the whitest of white cauliflower, perfect roses, cacao beans, squash, fruits, and on and on…

Then there are the people… young and old, they are always gracious and welcoming. And this year, under temperatures threatening 90ºF, women were circulating throughout the gathering crowd, offering thirst quenching aguas to stave off dehydration.

Oh yes, there were also kids and animals — and sometimes together!  As I think I’ve mentioned before, children in these indigenous communities seem to always be included and when old enough (5 and up, I’m guessing), given responsibilities — joy and exuberance, along with patience and commitment, abound.

I loved watching the little boys wrangling the goats as the procession proceeded from the panteón to the church.

 

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My BFF (since age 12 — I won’t say how many decades ago that was) arrived last night from Alaska.  It was her first trip to Mexico and it took 22 hours.  Of course we talked late into the night, thus the morning unfolded slowly.

However, eventually we emerged into the hustle and bustle of the temporary muertos stalls near 20 de Noviembre mercado, to begin purchasing the elements for our Día de los Muertos ofrenda:  Apples, oranges, and nuts to nourish the spirits, cempasuchitl (marigolds) to guide the spirits, cockscomb to symbolize mourning, and copal incense to draw the spirits home and ward off evil .

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As you can see from the above chart, we have much more to buy and bring out of the storage closet.  And, the above list doesn’t even mention sugar cane stalks!

h/t Chef Pilar Cabrera for posting the chart on Facebook.

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Yesterday, I spent another magical day with friends in San Antonino Castillo Velasco (about 23 miles/1 hour  from the the city).  It was Domingo de Palmas (Palm Sunday) and San Antonino celebrates in its own unique, warm, and welcoming way.

Townspeople gather in the cemetery to decorate the “Señor del Burrito” with fruit, vegetables, flowers, and everything they sell or grow during the year.  In addition, livestock (goats, chickens, pigs, etc.), more foodstuffs, flowers, etc. are gathered and priced.  The pastor of the parish church arrives to bless the “Lord of the Little Burro” and offerings.  Palm crosses are distributed, all are invited to help carry the offerings to the church, 10-12 men hoist the burro (now laden up to his neck and weighing who knows what!), and a procession to the church commences, lead by a fast-tempo drum beat and punctuated by shouts warning the men carrying “Señor del Burrito” of upcoming topes (speed bumps) and telephone wires, which must be navigated.

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At the church, “Señor del Burrito” has an honored place in the courtyard and the offerings are gathered and arranged.  Many then attend an hour-long mass inside the church, while others partake in yummy amarillo and pork empanadas, taste mezcal, and browse the wares of the artisan booths.  By the way, at least two of the “maestros” from the new, previously mentioned, book, Grandes Maestros del Arte Popular de Oaxaca were present:  Familia García Mendoza (ceramics)  and Antonina Cornelio, who makes the exquisitely embroidered clothing typical of San Antonino Castillo Velasco (and seen in one or two of the photos above).  Following the mass, the offerings are sold, with the proceeds going to an orphanage in the village.

Muchisimas gracias to the people of San Antonino Castillo Velasco for being so gracious and allowing us to share this special day with them.

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