Showing posts with label parade. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parade. Show all posts

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Vibrant Culture of Oaxaca

Living in our rural village of San Pedro Ixtlahuaca, my wife Amy and I are privileged to experience the vibrant culture of nearby Oaxaca in its most authentic form. Every July, we eagerly anticipate the Guelaguetza festivities, an annual festival celebrated in Oaxaca, Mexico, that showcases the rich cultural diversity of the region. Here are the key aspects of the Guelaguetza festivities:

1. Timing and Location: The festival takes place on the last two Mondays of July in Oaxaca City and surrounding areas. The main events are held at the Guelaguetza Auditorium on Cerro del Fortín, a hill overlooking the city.

2. Cultural Significance: "Guelaguetza" means "offering" or "reciprocal exchange of gifts" in Zapotec, reflecting the festival's emphasis on community sharing and mutual interdependence.

3. Historical Roots: The festival has origins dating back over 3,000 years, initially as a celebration of the Oaxacan corn goddess. It later incorporated Catholic elements after Spanish colonization.

4. Regional Representation: Delegations from Oaxaca's eight culturally diverse regions participate, showcasing their unique traditions.

5. Performances: The festival features traditional dances, music, and costumes specific to each region. Performers often distribute gifts to the audience, such as fruit, baskets, candy, or local goods.

6. Parades: Colorful parades called "calendas" are an integral part of the festivities, featuring dancers, singers, and musicians.

7. Food and Drink: The festival celebrates Oaxacan cuisine, including specialties like mole and mezcal.

8. Artisanal Crafts: A market (mercado) showcases handmade items from Oaxaca, including traditional apparel and crafts.

9. Additional Events: The celebration includes side events such as the performance of "Princess Donaji," an epic pre-Hispanic theatrical presentation.

10. Tourist Attraction: While the Guelaguetza has become a significant tourist draw, it remains deeply important for preserving and celebrating the indigenous cultures of Oaxaca.

Friday we went to watch some street festivities. Marching brass and percussion bands filled the air with lively rhythms, creating an infectious energy that reverberates through the streets. Costumed dancers marched and danced, carrying icons. The crowds are mostly Mexican natives with a good dose of tourists mixed in. 

We are both stimulated by cultural extravaganzas. I am a photographer as well as painter so try and angle for the best photos. Amy is an artist too, and quite good recording moments on her iPhone. 

The dancers are a sight to behold. Adorned in native costumes, they step and twirl with grace and precision, their movements telling stories passed down through generations. Each region of Oaxaca showcases its unique heritage through these performances, from the vibrant dresses of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to the feathered headdresses of the Mixtec dancers. The vivid colors and intricate designs of their costumes are mesmerizing, a testament to the rich cultural tapestry of our region. Often women dance and twirl with baskets of flowers or fruit on their head. 

As the sun sets, festivities take on a magical glow. Street vendors offer an array of delicious Oaxacan treats, from tlayudas to chapulines, and we indulge in these local delicacies while soaking in the festive atmosphere. A sense of community is overwhelming, as locals and visitors alike come together to celebrate and honor Oaxaca's heritage.

Driving back to San Pedro Ixtlahuaca, we felt a deep sense of satisfaction, joy and pride. Guelaguetza is more than just a festival; it is a celebration of life, culture, and unity. It reminds us of the beauty of our traditions and the importance of coming together as a community.

Every year, this journey reaffirms our love for Oaxaca and its vibrant culture. We return home with hearts full of memories, eagerly awaiting the next Guelaguetza and the joy it will undoubtedly bring.

I will be sharing more, as the main, big parades have not begun yet. 

Monday, February 20, 2023

Night of Carnival

I was slightly fearful of creating this particular unforgettable experience. I spoke with a psychologist about going to Rio de Janeiro for carnival, explaining I knew how hedonistic the trip could be and how my nature was sort of wild with some chaos thrown in to the mix. He smiled, confirming what we both knew. I booked my trip and went to South America for three weeks, including a night of carnival in the sambadrome February 14, 2010 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Rio indeed becomes quite a swirl of exuberant activity during carnival. Millions take to the streets and of course the main event is samba parades in the sambadrome. Five nights of parades.The parade starts at 9:30pm and it goes until 5-6am. Each of the six Samba Groups have 82 minutes to parade. Each group includes up to 3000 participants. 

There are also balls preceding the samba events. Each ball is based on a theme. The one I attended was called Red & Black, the colors of a favorite Brazilian soccer team. I had paid my fee before leaving the US, so had time to shop for clothes that were red and black. In particular, I found an awesome black shirt with red lightning designs.

The ball began at 11 PM and went until dawn. I took a cab from my hotel and arrived as other international people were stepping into the cavernous ballroom; dressed in red and black of course. The music and dancing was incredible, and because people were also getting inebriated the floor swirled with bumping and grinding. I got in the middle of it all, just feet from the stage where along with the band playing salsa and samba, scantily clad girls made shimmering ripples with their bodies . . . I had never seen flesh quiver like that.

The sambadrome holds perhaps 90,000 people and some carnival nights include higher ranked samba groups. I went on one of the best nights: Sunday. I also paid for one of the best spots to sit. The most I will ever pay. Not saying how much . . . but it got me an incredible view where I took pictures all evening and morning until my battery gave out just before dawn.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Oldest Continuing Festival

I love community celebrations where friends and family come together for festivity and conviviality. Among celebrations in the United States, the Fiesta de Santa Fe is the oldest continuing festival. It began in September of 1712; 54 years before the American declaration of independence.

The most recent fiesta occurred on the city square last weekend. The Boone Gallery is only steps off the plaza so it was easy to hear plenty of music, see dancing, enjoy food, and arts & crafts. Parades and processions rounded out the activities.

In the final hours a mass was held at St. Francis Cathedral downtown. The original charter from 1712 states that fiesta is to end with a prayerful mass. I went with Amy just as bells were ringing and enjoyed the hour-long service with singing and sermon in the stone cathedral. From there, churchgoers walked with lit candles in the cool evening air through darkened streets to a hilltop nearby, where a huge cross stands guard over the city. Bonfires lit the way. The final parade was accompanied by singing and ended with prayer over the city.

Here are more photos, and videos of dancing:

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Rain On The Parade

Hare Krishna people, chanting in downtown Denver, Colorado
Life is seldom what we expect. For instance, I packed my artwork in my van and drove for one day to arrive in Denver, Colorado for an art festival. Typically, I make good money selling paintings. This time, the morning of setup it was raining, and although it stopped by the time the festival began at 4 PM Friday, it was drizzling on and off. This is an outdoor event and I had two tents. The first evening I made good contacts for possible large sales. The next day was miserable with cool air and torrential rain that became hail. Parts of the field became flooded, and my booth as well. More bad weather is forecast and the art buyers are absent. I am leaving at day break to pack up and depart early Sunday. My hopes and expectations were rained upon, and I lost money not to mention my time invested.

After I shut my booth mid-afternoon Saturday, I went back to the hotel, and then the sun came out for  a little while. A big rock music festival raged downtown, and I mingled in the crowds, people watching, taking photos, and feeling joy while realizing how easy it is to be happy when I lose barriers and become one with the world. I love the streets of the planet, where I witness and record the parade of humanity.

I pay my dues being an artist, but I am addicted to the life.