Guelaguetza Oaxaca, Festival of Cultures
The annual Guelaguetza celebration in Oaxaca City sees Zapotec, Mixtec, Chatino, Mixe, Chontal and other indigenous groups from the eight regions of Oaxaca State congregate in the City of Oaxaca to celebrate their agricultural way of life. Guelaguetza is a word for offering or gift in the Zapotec language. Parade video
In 2012 there will be 47 indigenous groups participating. The modern Guelaguetza is in its 80 the year as a celebration that includes performances by groups of dancers who come to the capital city from the eight distinct regions of the State of Oaxaca where seventeen or so indigenous languages are still spoken.
The tradition goes back several thousand years to the thanking of the Gods for favorable crops. In the modern celebration, the performers dance and enact stage plays and shower the audience with offerings typical of their region. This is the essence of the Guelaguetza, a sharing and reaching out in the spirit of community.
• Guelaguetza Events
The Guelaguetza celebration starts with parades in the City of Oaxaca and then performances at the theater built in the 1970s on the hill del Fortin, above and to the west of the city. The celebration is one of costuming and performing the regional dances. The event includes the election of a woman chosen for her beauty and knowledge of the history of the traditions who will represent the Corn Goddess, Centeotl.
The events also include a stage play depiction of the story of the Princess Donaji, the last Zapotec empress. This performance takes place on the two Sundays before the Monday Guelaguetza presentations, July 22 and July 29, 8:00pm, 100 pesos for section A and B (Proceeds benefit the Oaxaca old peoples home) Musical groups perform starting at 5:30 pm
The woman who will represent the Goddess of Young Corn will be elected Thursday and Friday July 12 and 13 at the Jardin Panuelito near the Santo Domingo Church. She is chosen for her knowledge about the cultural history of her region.
The Guelaguetza parades are something special. There will be at least four parades and perhaps six during the three weeks of the Festival. Parades ococcur on Friday and Saturday the week before the Guelaguetza presentation and then again on the two Saturdays before the Monday Guelaguetza performances. In 2012 the parades will form at 6-7 pm in the Stone Cross Park between Alcala and Garcia Vigil, near the Pochote Garden. The parades go south on the pedestrian only street, Alcala, to the Zocalo. Men and women dressed in the costumes of their villages dance while marching bands play a unique mix of brass and village tunes.
Parade: Friday July 13th, Stone Cross park to the Cathedral
Parade of the Delegations: Saturday July 14th, Stone Cross park to the Cathedral
Parade of the Delegations, July 21, 6 pm, Same starting point and route.
Parade: July 28, 6 pm, same staging area and route to the Cathedral and Zocalo
(Check with tourist info as these dates and times could change)
Office of Tourism, City Tourist Office
Office of Tourism, City of Oaxaca, 102 Matamoros. The office is located between Alcala (Street) and Calle Gracia Vigil (Street), 4 blocks north of the Zocalo.
Guelaguetza Performance Times
The Guelaguetza performance event takes place on the first Monday after the 16th of July. A second performance takes place on the following Monday. Two Performances daily 10am, 5 pm.
July 16 is significant as the day honoring the Corn Goddess Centeotl.
The 16th of July is also the feast of the Virgin del Carmen (Virgin of Mount Carmel) in the Spanish Christian religion. The Colonial Spanish were able to combine the ancient religions and Christianity when they converted the indigenous people to Christianity.
The date of the first Guelaguetza performance can change to the following Monday if the Monday after the 16th happens to fall on July 18th, the anniversary of the death of former Mexican President and Oaxaca native Benito Juarez.
The Guelaguetza event is also called the "Los Lunes del Cerro" or Mondays On The Hill.
Dates and Tickets
2012 dates: Two days of performances; July 23 and July 30,
Two performances daily, 10 am performance, and 5 pm performance.
Ticket Price: Section A, 800 Pesos, Section B, 600 Pesos, Section C and D, free
On Monday the participants walk to the hill to the west of the city, Cerro del Fortin, and the auditorium, where the stage plays and regional dances take place.
Tradition of the Guelaguetza ceremony is a continuation of ancient rituals based on the connection between the Gods and the favorable conditions for agriculture. Corn was a primary crop of the ancients and was first developed or hybridized around 7,000 years ago, possibly in Oaxaca State, based on archaeological finds of 5000 year old corn cobs in Oaxaca. There are long standing traditions in Oaxaca of honoring the Rain Gods and Corn Gods and of offering regional foods as gifts.
The Guelaguetza has become a popular cultural event throughout the country particularly after 1987 when Oaxaca reached UNESCO World Heritage status. The modern, high-speed highway built in 1994 has made the event easily accessible to visitors from Puebla, Veracruz, and Mexico City.
Oaxaca's small but modern jet airport with direct flights from Houston and Mexico City has made the City of Oaxaca a destination for international travelers.
Rainy season will be well established by July so umbrellas and rain gear are important for the afternoon showers.
Source of Information
Office of Tourism, City of Oaxaca,
102 Matamoros, Centro
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