harnessing the power of photography for good

Guelaguetza 2012: The Parade Of The Delegations

The word Guelaguetza comes from the Zapotec language and is usually interpreted as the “reciprocal exchanges of gifts and services”. Traditionally when there was an occasion for celebration such as a wedding, or a feast day, the people attending the party will bring items necessary for the celebration like food or alcoholic beverages.  Each person’s offering, or “guelaguetza” allows the party to take place and becomes part of a reciprocal exchange and is one of the ways social ties are reinforced and preserved through time.

The state of Oaxaca is home to 16 different ethno linguistic groups and is incredibly diverse. For the Guelaguetza festival, members of these groups gather wearing their traditional clothing and perform folk dances that are particular to their village.

The Guelaguetza celebration dates back to way before the Spanish and continues as a defining characteristic of Oaxacan culture.  Its origins and traditions come from a earth-based religious celebrations that worship the corn god. In contemporary Oaxaca, indigenous communities from within the state gather at the Guelaguetza to present their native culture, mainly in the form of music, costumes, dances, and food. It is the most famous indigenous gathering of its kind in Mexico.

For the 80th year in a row, delegations from communities all over Oaxaca unite in the capital to showcase their traditional clothing and music  with parades, and dance performances.  The Parades are held on the last two Saturdays and the performances in the amphitheater take on place the last two Mondays in July.  Although the celebration is now an important tourist attraction, it also retains deep cultural importance for the peoples of Oaxaca and is important for the continuing survival of these cultures.

I feel privileged to witness and photograph this parade which took place on the 28th of July. I have come to personally know these fine Zapotec people and admire their spirit and pride.

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