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Posts Tagged ‘Virgen de Guadalupe’

The transportation workers of the CTM (Confederación de Trabajadores de México) pretty much shut down main roads into and out of the city on Tuesday (just ask blogger buddy Chris) and Sección XXII of the teachers’ union yesterday blocked streets, today picketed government offices, and are now moving full force into the zócalo and surrounding streets.

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Sigh, but don’t cry for Oaxaca.  Ten thousand years of history, this valley and her people will survive.  Listen and watch Lila Downs sing La Martiniana and remember its words

Porque si lloras yo peno,
en cambio si tú me cantas, mi vida,
yo siempre vivo, yo nunca muero.
~~~
Because if you cry, I’ll be filled with sorrow
Instead, if you sing to me
I will live forever, I’ll never die.

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Tapetes de arena (rugs of sand) are a traditional feature of the celebration in Oaxaca of Día de Muertos.  When I first arrived to live here, they were drawn in front of the Cathedral.  Next, they moved for a year or two to the Government Palace and for the last several years they have graced the Plaza de la Danza.  This year’s offerings were the work of twelve artisans and feature the most beloved and revered of the Jesús and María señores y señoras in Oaxaca.  This post will highlight the ladies…

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Virgen Dolorosa — Our Lady of Sorrows

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Virgen del Carmen — Our Lady of Mount Carmel

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Sra. Virgen del Rosario — Our Lady of the Rosary

Interestingly, in previous years the themes of the sand paintings in these public spaces have been Día de Muertos related.  I’m not sure of why the change this year to religious imagery.  Indigenous Day of the Dead celebrations pre-date the arrival of the Spanish and the All Saints Day of the Catholic church.  And in Oaxaca, one of the most indigenous states in Mexico, as Shawn D. Haley points out in his book, Day of the Dead: When Two Worlds Meet in Oaxaca, “there is little of the Spanish influence to be found in the Oaxacan Day of the Dead.  The Spanish version… is bleak and dismal…. For the Oaxaqueñans, these days are… joyous and exuberant.  It is not a mourning of lost loved ones, but a celebration, a reunion with the dead.”

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Santa María de Guadalupe — Our Lady of Guadalupe

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Nuestra Señora de la Solidad — Our Lady of Solitude

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Inmaculada Concepción de Juquila — Virgin of Juquila

For more of these sand paintings, check out the recent post by blogger buddy Chris.  By the way, the feast days for these last three señoras are coming up in December.  First on the calendar is Juquila on December 8, then comes Guadalupe on December 12,  and, finally, Oaxaca’s patron saint, Soledad on December 18.  There will be special masses, processions, and rockets. December is a noisy month!

But first, we must welcome the difuntos (departed) who begin arriving tonight.

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From the outdoor kitchens of Fidel Cruz and María Luisa Mendoza of Casa Cruz and Bulmaro Perez Mendoza, a three-day feast came forth to celebrate the mayordomía (stewardship) of La Virgen de Guadalupe in Teotitlán del Valle.

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The roles are set in the stones of the metates…

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But, it’s the hands of generations of women…

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who continue to shape traditions and nourish bodies and souls.

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With apron strings tied, the women of Teotitlán del Valle, from celebrated cocinera Abigail Mendoza…

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to her sister, María Luisa Mendoza…

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to the abuelas…

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and their hijas, nueras, nietas, and sobrinas.

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It takes a village of women to make feast.

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Blogger buddy Chris and I were filled with wonder and gratitude to be invited to the home of Fidel Cruz and María Luisa Mendoza, primero (first) mayordomías (sponsors/stewards), for a 3-day fiesta honoring the Virgen de Guadalupe.  There were orchestrated rituals of seating, music, and dance; a bounty of some of the best cocina Zapoteca food one could ever hope to eat; hundreds of people from small children to great grandparents; and the most amazing warm, welcoming, and communal spirit.

El atole de espuma

El atole de espuma

Higaditos waiting to be served

Higadito waiting to be served

Poultry hanging around, awaiting their turn

Poultry hanging around, awaiting their turn

Canastas (baskets) used to bring food, dishes, and serving pieces

Canastas (baskets) used to bring food, dishes, and serving pieces

Chile spiced oranges and cucumber to cleanse the palate

Chile spiced oranges and cucumber to cleanse the palate

Never ending piles of dishes waiting to be washed by a myriad of women's hands

Never ending piles of dishes waiting to be washed by a myriad of women’s hands

It was an amazing couple of days!  And these still lifes only begin to tell the story.  I promise more, but in the meantime, check out Oaxaca-The Year After.

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And we thought last year’s Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe in Teotitlán del Valle was exceptional!  It was, but, for blogger buddy Chris and me, this year brought even more warmth, appreciation, and the intangible of being present in the richness of more layers of being in this special village.

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Edgar Daniel Ruiz Ruiz

We are patrons of two of the danzantes of the 2016-18 Grupo de Danza de Pluma Promesa in Teotitlán del Valle — and Edgar Daniel Ruiz Ruiz is one of them.  As such, we were invited to the home he shares with his parents, Mario Ruiz Bautista and Victoria Ruiz, to partake in the traditions and observe the responsibilities that accompany taking on the three year commitment to being a member of the Grupo.

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Mario Ruiz Bautista (on left) overseeing the offerings

From my albeit limited understanding, as part of the commitment the dancers make during their three years of service, each of their families is tasked with taking a turn hosting one of the four yearly festivals.

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Victoria Ruiz watching Edgar’s dance

The day began with a breakfast of traditional breads and hot chocolate and was followed by Mole de Castilla, a mole unique to Teotitlán and served during weddings and the most important festivals.  There must have been over 100 people, including Edgar’s extended family, padrinos, danzantes and their families, and band members.  They gathered and were served in the courtyard of the Ruiz home, with men seated at one long table, women on the other side of the courtyard at another, and the two gringos seated with the danzantes in the altar room opening onto the courtyard.

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Breakfast breads with hot chocolate

Following the meal, chairs and tables were folded and removed, the danzantes took the floor, the band began to play, and, as the sun streamed down on the courtyard, Edgar began his dance.  It was a touching moment to see this young man, whom I’ve known for almost six years, since he was a gangling teenager, and Chris has known since he was a small boy, dance with such confidence and pride.

Following dances by the whole group, with band leading the way, dancers, families, and guests processed down the steep and winding streets from the house to the church.

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Edgar Daniel Ruiz Ruiz en route to the church, accompanied by Victoria (his mother) and his nephew.

They filed into the church, where a special mass was celebrated, and then regrouped in the church courtyard to begin the seven hour (más o menos) Danza de la Pluma.  Early in the afternoon, while the dance continued, the families and invited guests returned to the Ruiz home, where the families of the other dancers each made formal presentations of baskets of fruit and mezcal or cervesa to Mario and Victoria.  This was followed by a comida (lunch) of caldo de pollo.  After all were fed, the offerings  were loaded into pickup trucks to be taken to the church plaza, to later be shared with the community.  At night, after the dance ended, we all again returned to Casa Ruiz for barbecoa de res (beef) in a rich and flavorful sauce, cervesas, mezcal, and soda pop.  I can’t even begin to imagine all the work that went into preparing all the food, orchestrating its serving, and then washing all the dishes — by hand in basins set up in the yard across the street.

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Edgar Daniel Ruiz Ruiz

It’s been over twenty four hours since Chris and I returned from Teotitlán del Valle and, though we talked continuously on the drive back to the city and have spoken several times since, we are still unable to put into words how meaningful and how honored we were to share this special day with Edgar, his family, and his community.  It was a precious gift. ¡Muchisimas gracias a todos!

For more, see Chris’s blog post, A very special Dia de Virgen de Guadalupe.

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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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The bells, bands, and booms have been soundtrack of the city for a week — the virgins are being celebrated!  First in line, on December 8, for chiming church bells, processions, and fireworks was the Virgen de Juquila and third will be Oaxaca’s patron saint, the Virgen de la Soledad on Dec. 18.  However, in between the eighth and eighteenth, all of Mexico honors the Virgin of Guadalupe.   Today, December 12 is her day but, like the others, the festivities began days in advance.

Scenes from last night in front of the Iglesia de Guadalupe in Oaxaca city…

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Now on to Teotitlán de Valle for this afternoon’s Día de Guadalupe performance of the Danza de la Pluma.  We have been told the festivities will last all night, as the community will also be saying “adios” to this group of dancers — their three-year commitment is at an end.  It will be a miracle of the Virgin if we can party hardy until even midnight, but we will give it the old college try!

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Today is Guadalupe’s feast day.  This Queen of Mexico, Empress of America, and patron saint of Mexico is being celebrated all over Mexico and, apparently for the first time in Vatican history, today Pope Francis to Say Mass in Honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

In Mexico, it’s not just a one-day event.  Wednesday afternoon, while Chris and I were giving our previously mentioned presentation at the Oaxaca Lending Library, only blocks away festivities began with a religious ceremony at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the side of Llano Park.  It was followed that night with a calenda through the streets of the city.  Yesterday, Guadalupe’s children, the little Juan Diegos and their peasant sisters, were brought by parents (and grandparents) to the Templo de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (at the north end of Llano Park), where they waited patiently in long lines to enter the church to be blessed and then be photographed in “Guadalupe” scenes.

However, on the streets of Oaxaca, Guadalupe is seen everywhere and everyday…

The other big news from Rome, that Oaxaqueños are celebrating, is the Wealth of Oaxaca craft present in the Vatican Museum — a Christmas tree and Nativity scene decorated with artesania crafted by 142 Oaxacan families from 25 municipalities in the state.  The exhibition was inaugurated on December 10 and will run through February 2015 — should you be planning a trip to Italy!

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As a background to the December 12, Fiesta a la Virgen de Guadalupe performance of the Danza de la Pluma in Teotitlán del Valle, mañana (Dec. 10, 2014) at 5:00 PM at the Oaxaca Lending Library, Chris (of Oaxaca-The Year After fame) and I are doing a presentation about the Danza de la Pluma in Teotitlán del Valle.

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From the library’s description of the talk, “The Danza de la Pluma or Dance of the Conquistadors is one of the most famous dances performed in Oaxaca.  Join Shannon and Chris for a presentation filled with photos and video of their many times observing and chronicling this beautiful dance.”

Alas, it’s not free.  Besides memberships, presentations like this are what keeps the library afloat.  The cost is 70 pesos for OLL members and 100 pesos for non-members.  Hope to see you there!

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Tomorrow, December 12, is  el Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe, aka, Queen of Mexico, Empress of America, and patron saint of México.

Legend and belief has it that in, “1525, only four years after the conquest, the Aztec Quauhtlatoatzin was baptized by a Franciscan priest, who named him Juan Diego. Six years later, on December 9th, Juan Diego witnessed the first appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe. She told him she wanted a church built on Tepeyac Hill and told him to communicate her wish to the authorities.  Mexico’s first Bishop, Juan de Zumárraga, didn’t believe him.”  She appeared to Juan Diego three more times and with her last apparition, “she asked him to go gather some flowers: roses, which had never grown there, much less in mid-winter.  He wrapped them in his ayate or tilma, a sort of coarsely woven cape, and the Virgin told him not to open it until he was before the Bishop. When Juan Diego opened the tilma in front of Bishop Zumárraga, the roses cascaded out and they discovered the image of the Virgin imprinted upon it. ”  Thus, her iconic cloak we see in paintings and statues.

In Oaxaca, her fiesta began on December 2 and will end with a mass at 7 PM on December 13.  Today, little boys of the city, dressed as Juan Diego, and little girls, in the traditional traje (costume), were brought by parents (and grandparents) to the Templo de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (at the north end of Llano Park), where they waited patiently in long lines to enter the church to be blessed.  Once they exited, fifteen (más o menos) “Guadalupe settings” designed and constructed by photographers and their assistants, vied for pesos for portraits.

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By the way, there was a reward awaiting the little Juan Diegos and his sisters —  rows upon rows of food stalls, carnival rides, and puestos selling toys, Santa hats, Christmas lights.

Tomorrow, I’m off to Teotitlán del Valle for their traditional Virgen de Guadalupe performance of the Danza de la Pluma.  And, did I mention yesterday’s national Day of the Clown festivities?  Stay tuned…

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Down to Mercado de Abastos late this morning to catch a colectivo out to Etla.  I’ve actually come to enjoy the 10-block walk through this definitely not-spiffed-up-for-tourist-consumption neighborhood.  However, crossing the Periferico Sur is another story!  Cars, taxis, colectivos, buses, trucks, motorcycles, hand-trucks, and pedestrians all in motion or poised to move.  Did I mention the potholes ready to swallow people and vehicles?  There is a pedestrian bridge a block down the street, but what’s the fun in that?

Needless to say, we all need all the help we can get!  I think my colectivo driver had all his bases covered, invoking Mexico’s “Holy Trinity” — La Virgen de Guadalupe, Jesús crucificado, and patriotismo.

Virgin of Guadalupe, crucifix, 2 Mexican flags on rear view mirror

Of course he had the rear view mirror covered, too!

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On this day honoring one of the most revered icons of Mexico, the Virgin of Guadalupe

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The city of Oaxaca’s children are dressed as little Juan Diegos and their peasant sisters.

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They are brought to the Templo de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe at the north end of Llano Park.

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Here they and their parents wait patiently in a line that rings the church.

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They are waiting to enter (via the door with a large banner marked, “entrada”) the church and be blessed.

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Once they exit (via the door marked “salida”), there are photographers waiting, with burros and panoramic scenes, to take commemorative photographs — for a fee.

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The sun is hot, the lines are long, and sometimes it’s long past nap time.  By the way, there is also a carnival (with rides and games) and puestos upon puestos of food; the religious and secular meet.

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I’ve got my eye on you…

Decorated skeleton on top of building.

I’m praying for you…

Virgin of Guadalupe image stenciled on a wall

You just never know who might be looking over your shoulder.

Skeleton perched on rooftop above a stencil of the Virgen of Guadalupe

Días de los Muertos are coming…

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Hmmm… hope you didn’t need a taxi in Oaxaca today.  It’s not that they weren’t around; they were everywhere!  August 12 is Día del Taxista and, instead of picking up fares, taxis are decorated and parade through the city, accompanied by banners, bands, monos, and the Virgen de Guadalupe.

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I think I managed to capture one of each of the (color-coded) taxi organizations participating — 13 by my count.  However, the procession didn’t seem as long this year and I’m thinking some of the organizations were missing.  Charges of corruption, going back to the previous governor have been ramping up and the July 25th blockade that paralyzed transportation into and out of the city, by some taxistas, seemed to put the issue on the front burner.  But, who knows???  Certainly not this gringa!

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December seems to be quite a month for the Virgins of Oaxaca.

December 8, I was awakened by cohetes (rockets… all bang, no bling) at 4:45 AM.  They continued sporadically until about an hour later, when wildly clanging church bells heralded a non-stop barrage of more cohetes for several minutes… they eventually faded away, but a banda was heard in the distance.

It was the feast day of the Virgin of Juquila (La Virgen de Juquila), one of Oaxaca’s own.  According to legend, in 1633, when a fire burned the small Chatino village of Amialtepec to the ground, a small statue of the Virgin Mary was rescued amidst the ashes. It was a miracle; she was undamaged, save for her light skin color, which was permanently darkened by the smoke… causing her to look more like the Chatino people, who revered her.

Here she is, in a field alongside La Virgen de Guadalupe, almost at the crest of the new carretera between Oaxaca and San Martín Tilcajete.

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La Virgen de Guadalupe on the left and La Virgen de Juquila on the right.

Sand paintings of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the Virgin of Juquila on a mountainside.

The Virgin of Guadalupe had her day only four days later, on December 12.  La Virgen de Guadalupe is known as the Queen of Mexico and Empress of America, and is the patron saint of México.  Reports estimate that 5.8 million of the faithful made the pilgrimage this year to Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City to honor the dark-skinned virgin who appeared to Indian peasant Juan Diego on Dec. 12, 1531 near what is now Mexico City.

In Oaxaca, worshipers flocked to the Chapel of Guadalupe at the north end of Llano Park and a carnival filled the park for all the little Juan Diegos and girls in period costume to be entertained.  However, I headed out to Teotitlán del Valle to see this Zapotec village honor La Virgen de Guadalupe with their traditional Danza de la Pluma.  Several of the Danzantes (dancers) were wearing capes woven and embroidered especially for this day…

Virgin of Guadalupe embroidered on the back of the cape of a Danzante.

The weaving and embroidery were spectacular!

Closeup of the Virgin of Guadalupe on the back of Moctezuma's cape.

And, at least one of the Danzantes had an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the middle of his corona (feathered headdress).

Feathered headdress with image of the Virgin of Guadalupe  in the center.

Malinche and Doña Marina also had similar images on the skirts of their dresses.  To see those and several other photos of the dancers, you should take a look at what Chris has posted at, Oaxaca-The Year After.

Next on the “Virgin” calendar is December 18, the feast day of La Virgen de la Soledad (the Virgin of Solitude), Oaxaca’s patron saint.  Stay tuned…

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