Posts Tagged ‘Virgen de Guadalupe’

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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.

Brown fields next to highway at crest of hill

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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