La Guelaguetza in Oaxaca

La Guelaguetza is simply the main festivity of Oaxaca. It is the meeting of the seven regions of the state at El Cerro del Fortin or Fortin Hill two Mondays in July in the most colorful dancing fiesta of the whole country.
The beginnings of La Guelaguetza date back from the Mexica conquest of Oaxaca. The Mexica worshiped Goddess of tender corn Xilonen. Nowadays the festivity is dedicated to Goddess of corn Centeotl.

Guelaguetza means to share or to give. It is also an reciprocal interchange of presents and services. This interchange is a strong tie among people of communities and families.

The Guelaguetza is also known as Lunes del cerro or Mondays of the Hill because it is celebrated on the top of El Fortin Hill, a place with a spectacular view of the city and the surroundings.

In some communities Guelaguetza also means Help among their inhabitants. In fact in some towns many parties such as Quinceañeras when a girl is 15 years old, or baptize, or anniversaries, people organize them with donations in money, music, beverages, food, and many others given as a Guelaguetza, sharing costs and work in order to have a great party.

Guelaguetza is a Zapotec word which has an inner sense of participating by cooperation, which is a gift which needs no obligation, only the desire to cooperate with others.

The seven regions that meet at the Guelaguetza are: The Central Valleys, Sierra Juarez, La Cañada, Tuxtepec, La Mixteca La Costa, and the Istmo of Tehuantepec.

Each region presents its most valuable traditions and heritage through dances, music, songs and costumes. At the end of their participation they give with presents such as hats, fruits, food, handcrafts to the public.

The dances of the region of Central Valleys are the Dance of the Feather or Danza de la Pluma and the Jarabe del Valle. From la Sierra Juarez Sones Serranos and the dance of the Bottle or Jarabe de la Botella. From Tuxtepec the amazing Dance Flower of the Pineapple or Flor de Piña with more than twenty beautiful women dancing energetically shoulder to shoulder in a colorful and full of movement synchrony. From Huautla de Jimenez Sones Mazatecos. Pinotepa presents some dances such as Las Chilenas, la Malagueña and El Pandero. Huajuapan de Leon presents Jarabe Mixteco, another full of movement and energy dance between a couple. The Istmo de Tehuantepec presents La Sandunga and the turtle. Ejutla presents Jarabe Chenteño and the Palomo. The closing of the Guelaguetza is usually presented one of the most representative dances of Oaxaca, The Dance of the Feather or Danza de la Pluma. This folkloric dance is performed by men with colorful and huge, and also heavy, plumes. These plumes are decorated with mirrors and, in some cases, with religious images.

Music in La Guelaguetza

An outstanding deed is that every region has its own music band. Of course, music is played alive during the whole event. Most of them are wind bands and play folkloric music meanwhile the dancers perform the best of their region.

Guelaguetza is to treat politely and gently people. There are places such as Zaachila where Guelaguetza is a whole community party. They organize their own Guelaguetza at the archaeological site, and everything is for free; soft fruit drinks, tamales, bread, and seats (usually on the ground).

Guelaguetza, the maximun expression of art and traditions of Oaxaca, an amazing gathering of people, music, dances and heritage of every piece of the cultural mosaic that will leave an unforgetable trace in those who have the opportunity to live it.

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