Grandmother Julieta Casimiro Fiesta Patronal for El Senor de los Tres Caidas

For Friends of El Interior, An Update on Grandmother Julieta Casimiro.

Grandmother-JulietaMany of you attended a reception we had at El Interior in the Fall of 2014, with Grandmother Julieta Casimiro, of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers. She visited me in my home and came and did a limpia or energetic clearing in the store with copal incense and Holy Water and included a blessing in Honor and Celebration of 35 years of El Interior. Grandmother Julieta and daughter Eugenia also had a sale of the beautiful embroidered clothing that she and her cooperative make.

I am writing from Oaxaca to let you know about the the big event in Grandmother Julieta’s life now. She has been chosen by the Huautla de Jimenez village community, both the town authorities and the church elders, to be the Hermanda or “Godmother” of the town’s most important celebration, the Fiesta Patronal for El Senor de los TresCaidas (while carrying his heavy cross, Christ fell down three times). As the Godmother of this fiesta, she is in charge of organizing all aspects of producing this huge event from decorating the Church with flowers, to feeding 1000 to 1500 people traditional feast food and drink for two days, the 23 and 24 of February.  The shopping list is incredible and includes 400 kilos of chicken for the mole, 300 kilos of corn for tamales and tortillas, plus lord knows how many kilos of rice and beans etc.

As you can imagine this is a very significant financial undertaking for Grandmother Julieta.  I have raised some money from some of her friends and I will personally be delivering this to her on the 8th  of February. I am making an official list of this offrenda (offering) with everyone’s name on it and will present it to her in a formal way during the La Labrada ceremony where very large bee’s wax candles are made and decorated for the big Patron Saint Fiesta, El Señor de los Tres Caidas.

In addition to this upcoming event, Grandmother Julieta celebrated her 79th birthday last August with a lovely party given by her children, and was honored publicly in her village as a “Wise Woman” Curandera. This is a huge honor, as an elder, she is asked to council and give her opinion on many issues facing the village.  Huautla de Jimenez, Oaxaca, her village, was also distinguished as a “Pueblo Magico”or Magical Town by the Mexican Government in a formal ceremony.

Regarding these customs, I have a friend that asked me a very good question about these indigenous ways and here is the question and reply:

Question:

Pardon my ignorance, but why do they saddle Grandmother Julieta with the financial burden when “honoring” her for the Festival?  With this question my intention is not negative in any way, but curious because this sounds strange to me!

My Response:

Your question is an excellent one and really got me thinking….. to further elaborate it is part of a system the indigenous Zapotec’s call the “Guelaguetza”– not sure what the Mazatec’s (Julieta’s ethnic group) call this system.

The indigenous people work on the concept of reciprocity— If one has gained a high stature in the community one Gives back and is asked by the community to do so. There is a trust that the Universe gives to those who give. They are devoted to the village and  maintaining the cultural values and customs of their community. In my opinion it is a magnificent system and operates incredibly well in these indigenous communities. There are villages where all office holders, mayor, president, treasurer, road builders, peace keepers etc. perform these services for the village with no economic gain, NO PAY. In fact if you are  the town’s president it is most often a full time job, so all the work you might perform to support your family is on hold for a year.

In practical terms, in Huautla, there is a committee of 40 Mayordomos (couples usually) who are also helping with this Fiesta. There is another household that is hosting the La Labrada, the ceremony of the making of the candles; Julieta told me she had contributed beeswax to help them — one of her family’s businesses is Beekeeping.  They in turn will very likely help her with a contribution either for this fiesta or one in the future. There are families in Huautla that will help her– some will probably bring some corn or beans or a “wheel barrow full of refrescos, soft drinks”. The feeding of  up to 1,500  participants is major financial contribution for her. I will ask more questions regarding these beautiful customs, and hopefully return with some great photos.

-Marcia Lucas

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