Let´s go to the Annual Fiesta at Charco del Ingenio
By Jesús Aguado
Although its doors opened in 1991, el Charco President César Arias says that the work began earlier. Even though they are celebrating 28 years, in reality it’s closer to 30. From the beginning, the preserve was reclaimed for the ancestors and their descendants. That is why each year, stewards of 20 communities come together with the responsibility and obligation to organize the indigenous rituals as well as the entire celebration.
This year, the festival falls on fall on Friday–Sunday, July 12–14, and stewardship of the event will go to the oldest and most traditional neighborhood of San Miguel, El Valle del Maíz.
The weekend-long event has a different indigenous steward each year, drawn from one of 20 communities in San Miguel’s municipality that are heavily populated by people considered to be indigenous. This responsibility includes being in charge of the Santa Cruz de Mandita (The Holy Cross of Mandita), a holy cross kept in a glass case, and also visiting the stewards of the other 19 communities, Arias said.
“The festival is of the people for the people,” he added.
Like every year, the xuchil vigil begins at 8pm on Friday, July 12, on the Valle del Maiz community esplanade. During the night, the suchil offerings are prepared. They will then be presented and erected as tribute to the Santa Cruz (the Holy Cross) at 5pm the next day at the Plaza de los Cuatro Vientos.
On Saturday, July 13, the solemn Santa Cruz vigil takes place at el Charco. The stewards will be received along with their animas, items which represent their ancestors. During the night, participants offer prayers and songs of praise. They also weave batons, which on Sunday are placed as offerings on the holy cross.
At dawn on Sunday, the popular festival is officially opened with an alborada, a dawn celebration accompanied by noisy fireworks. Arias assured us that because the event will be held at el Charco, the pyrotechnics will be modest and the area from which they originate will be carefully watched. The fireworks are an old tradition that sometimes generate resident complaints, but Arias says those complaints generate from private parties that have nothing to do with the ceremony.
The public festival takes place on Sunday at 2pm in Parque Landeta, which is located by el Charco’s entrance. The lively event will include a foot race, an Apache dance, a dance of the ravados, a dance of the conquest, mojigangas and live music from a wind instrument band. There will be a procession involving parandes and the performance of huapangos (a type of Mexican song) by the Leones de la Sierra band.