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Ann Murdy | profile | all galleries >> El Concurso para La Diosa Centéotl/The Contest for the Corn Goddess 2014 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

El Concurso para La Diosa Centéotl/The Contest for the Corn Goddess 2014

I returned to Oaxaca in July 2014 to document the activities for the Guelaguetza for my final time. One event that I really enjoyed documenting from 2013 was the contest for the selection of the Corn Goddess known as Diosa Centéotl. This year the contest occurred again at Alameda de León in front of the cathedral on the zócalo on July 17th and 18th. This year there were thirty-three young women between the ages of sixteen through twenty-two who competed. The contestants are selected from the eight regions of Oaxaca. Over 3,000 years ago the indigenous people of Oaxaca cultivated plants for hunting, fishing and gathering. Corn was considered the most important plant as it formed the basis of their diet. The gods and goddesses associated with water and corn were celebrated in July with celebrations of music, dance and offerings to bring forth a good crop. The Goddess Centéotl was honored at this time. A young maiden was always chosen to represent the Corn Goddess. This current custom of selecting the corn goddess comes from these traditions.

The contestants are selected for their knowledge of their customs from their respective region. This is not a beauty contest. The contest takes place in two stages -- the first stage held on July 17th was dedicated to each of the young women speaking about the dances, gastronomy, legends, traditions and local customs that come from their respective village. The second stage of the competition held on July 18th was dedicated to speaking about their indigenous clothing that they were wearing. On the first day their names were called up one by one as they went up onstage where they drew a numbered ball out of a glass bowl to determine whom would speak from first to last.

They greeted the audience in their native tongue and then they switched over to Spanish. Once again, all of the young women were extremely passionate when they spoke about their respective area. My favorites were the girls from Pinotepa Nacional, Hueyapan de León and Villa Sola de Vega. When the second stage concluded on Friday evening the three female judges Margarita Toledo de Garcia, María Antonieta and Soledad Díaz Altamirano announced that twenty-two year old Jacqueline Reyes Rosario Sarabia from Santo Domingo Tehuantepec was Diosa Centeótl 2014. Upon hearing her named announced Jacqueline made the sign of the cross and began jumping up in down in place. She almost began to cry upon hearing that she had won the contest. All of the other girls came up and wished her congratulations. Jacqueline received her sceptor from the secretary of tourism Gabriel Antonio Pedro Reyes.

The role of Diosa Centéotl is an important one as she leads the two parade of delegations before the Guelaguetza performances on the last two Mondays of July as well as greeting the crowd in the Guelaguetza auditorium for both the morning and evening performances on each of the two Mondays. Once again it was a joy to watch these young women compete. It is also an excellent opportunity to view the beautiful traje from the eight regions! Viva Oaxaca!

You can view my photos of all the other Guelaguetza activities at: http://www.pbase.com/annmurdy/guelaguetza_2014&page=all


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Contestants Onstage
Contestants Onstage
Portrait of Girl from San Blas Atempa
Portrait of Girl from San Blas Atempa
The Conclusion of Stage 1
The Conclusion of Stage 1
Jacqueline, Stage 2
Jacqueline, Stage 2
Jacqueline drawing her number
Jacqueline drawing her number
Contestant from Ejutla de Crespo
Contestant from Ejutla de Crespo
China Oaxqueña in competiton
China Oaxqueña in competiton
The 2nd stage of the competition
The 2nd stage of the competition
Jacqueline Reyes Rosario Sarabia, Diosa Centéotl 2014
Jacqueline Reyes Rosario Sarabia, Diosa Centéotl 2014
Portrait of Contestant from Juchitan
Portrait of Contestant from Juchitan
Waiting for winner to be announced
Waiting for winner to be announced
Girl from Sola de Vega competing
Girl from Sola de Vega competing
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