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Ann Murdy | profile | all galleries >> 2013 Guelaguetza in Oaxaca, Mexico tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

2013 Guelaguetza in Oaxaca, Mexico

In July 2013 Oaxaca celebrated the 81st anniversary of their folkloric event known as the Guelaguetza. This joyous and lively celebration showcases the gastronomy, folk art, music and dance of the state. Dancers representing the eight regions of the state come into the city of Oaxaca to dance on the last two Mondays in July in the Guelaguetza auditorium. Throughout the month of July there are continuous events going on in the city of Oaxaca as well as the communities surrounding the city. There were all types of ferias (fairs) taking place. Many of them were in Oaxaca City. The mezcal and artesanias fair both took place in Llano Park, the tejate and tamal fair took place on the Plaza de la Danza and the mole fair took place in the botantical garden next to Santa Domingo. Other fairs took place outside of Oaxaca City such as the quesillo (cheese) fair in Reyes Etla, the mushroom fair in San Antonino Cuajimoloyas and the tapete (rug) fair in Teotitlán del Valle. Almost every day parades and dancing took place in Oaxaca City. One could also go to many of the surrounding villages to see local Guelaguetza performances for free.

The main Guelaguetza celebration took place on July 22nd and 29th in the Guelaguetza Auditorium which seats 11,400 people located on Fortín Hill. Tickets must be purchasd to attend these performances that took place at 10AM and 5PM on both Mondays. The evening performances always ended with an explosion of fireworks over the amphitheater. There were around fifty or so delegations that participated in the Guelaguetza in 2013. This year the Mexican-American folk singer Lila Downs was the official ambassador of the Guelaguetza. She gave a free concert on July 26th in the Guelaguetza auditorium that featured many of the dancers from the eight regions onstage with her.

This celebration originated in colonial times. It is related to the Corpus Christi celebrations at the Carmen Alto church in the city of Oaxaca. Carmen Alto church always plays a significant role in the festivities. On July 21st and 28th there was non-stop music, dancing, processions, fireworks and a huge castillo (firework castle) on the evening of the 21st. Throughout the Guelaguetza celebration people came to the church to pay their respects to the Virgin of Carmen. Once the Spanish arrived in Mexico the indigenous people still continued to celebrate their customs dedicated to Centéotl, the corn goddess. In observance of this tradition, there is always a young girl who competes to be the corn goddess every year at the Guelaguetza. To see my photos of the contest for the Guelaguetza Corn Goddess go to the folowing link:
http://www.pbase.com/annmurdy/diosa_centeotl&page=all

During the two weeks that I was in Oaxaca for the Guelaguetza celebration I visited a few of the fairs in town, went out to Tlacochahuaya for a Guelaguetza which ended up being more of a comparsa as the local men were dressed up as women and wearing masks. They grabbed men from the audience and took them out onto the dance area for spin. The local authorities exchanged mezcal, beer, fruit and tamales with everyone in attendance. One never knows what to expect when you visit Oaxaca. What I personally like about the Guelaguetza is seeing all the dancers in their colorful folkoric costumes. This is the real highlight for me -- it truly is a color explosion!

The overall experience of being in Oaxaca during the Guelaguetza is pure joy! There is a tremendous sense of community as young adults and children dance and play in their local bands. It is truly a rainbow of color and pure happiness. For myself, this is one of the best ways to appreciate the vast and rich culture of Oaxaca. Viva Oaxaca!
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Closing dance on the Plaza de la Danza
Closing dance on the Plaza de la Danza
Dancers from Ejutla on Alcala
Dancers from Ejutla on Alcala
A Gathering of Los Zancudos
A Gathering of Los Zancudos
Couple from San Antonino
Couple from San Antonino
Dancers from Miahuatlan de Porfiro Diaz
Dancers from Miahuatlan de Porfiro Diaz
Dancers from Santa Maria Tlahultotlepec
Dancers from Santa Maria Tlahultotlepec
Dancers from Rubios de Tecomaxlahuca
Dancers from Rubios de Tecomaxlahuca
Tres Tehuanas from Juchitan
Tres Tehuanas from Juchitan
Música en las calles
Música en las calles
Dulce the Corn Goddess from San Pablo Villa de Mitla
Dulce the Corn Goddess from San Pablo Villa de Mitla
Flor de Piña from San Juan Bautista
Flor de Piña from San Juan Bautista
Danzante from Cuilapan
Danzante from Cuilapan
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