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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tortugas, NM: Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta, Part 1

Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta, Tortugas, New Mexico

My mother (visiting from Missouri) and I attended the third and final day of Tortugas' 2012 Our Lady of Guadalupe fiesta on Wednesday, December 12.


Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta, Tortugas, New Mexico.







The ancestors of Tortugas' settlers celebrated the fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Old Mexico for hundreds of years, and continued the tradition when they made their new homes in Tortugas more than 100 years ago.




The documentary, Our People, Our Faith ... Our Lady, is a beautifully-made film about the village, its early settlers, and the fiesta. You can watch the movie in its entirety here. Great filmwork and still photos, good soundtrack, and interesting story told from various perspectives. The only thing missing was more information on the dances' origins. Much of the soundtrack came from Smithsonian Folkways' Music of New Mexico: Hispanic Traditions


Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta, Tortugas, New Mexico.


As with New Mexico generally, the fiesta is an admixture of cultural traditions that began not just centuries ago, but millennia. And as with the matachine dances, the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe has societal and political dimensions along with the religious. 
















In explaining the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the wikipedia authors of same note:
Nobel Literature laureate Octavio Paz wrote in 1974 that "the Mexican people, after more than two centuries of experiments, have faith only in the Virgin of Guadalupe and the National Lottery".

My mother and I arrived in Tortugas just after the fiesta Mass had started. Well, we arrived before the Gospel was read, which according to Roman Catholic etiquette, is the cut-off time before it's really too late to come in. The church was packed, standing room only, and at that, not much room left to stand in. But an usher squeezed us in.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta, Tortugas, New Mexico.

On the right side of church were the dancers in their dance attire; on the left were we vanilla worshippers. Just like in the Mariachi Mass last month in Las Cruces, the priests and brothers celebrating the Mass moved between English and Spanish with liquid ease.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta, Tortugas, New Mexico. Spent shells from shotguns.



At the end of Mass, we heard the sharp reports of shotgun fire, and when we emerged from the church, we saw the Pueblo Indian dance group performing a dance prayer in front of the building.


Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta, Tortugas, New Mexico. Pueblo dancers.


A man helped keep the passageway clear between the dancers and the church entrance, as the dancers were dancing for La Virgen, currently ensconced inside the church, to the right of the altar. So this man frequently had people move out of the dancers' line of sight so as not to obstruct their homage.


Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta, Tortugas, New Mexico. Pueblo dancers.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta, Tortugas, New Mexico. Pueblo dancers.


To be continued ...  


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