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El Seņor de la Conquista
Images from the feast El Sr. de la Conquista can be found "Colour Images", "Feasts and ceremonies"

The small town of San Miguel de Allende seems at the first glance not to have any indian traditions left, it seems totally mixed and also strongly influenced by all the foreigners who live there.

But there are actually still many feasts and ceremonies with an Indian origin and character left in the calendar of festivities. There are also several families and groups that carefully conserves them and who with pride claim an Indian extraction. It does also seem that many, under the strong pressure from foreign cultures, increasingly protect their own cultural heritage. Unfortunately, the Indian language that was earlier spoken in the area, otomi, was lost during the second half of the twentieth century.

One of these festivities is El Seņor de la Conquista that is celebrated the first Friday in March. The feast has its origin in an event that took place in 1575. Two Spanish priests who were transporting a figure of Christ to San Miguel were attacked and killed by Chichimec Indians south of the village. the figure was later fetched by the villagers and has since been worshipped especially by the Indians in the area.

The feast is first observed, as is common in Indian societies, with a vigil on Thursday evening. This is carried out in the Indian homes where an offering is installed with images of Saints, crosses, flowers, incense and food. During the night ceremonies are performed with incense and bell ringing. Almost all night an orchestra plays on conchas (an Indian string instrument inspired by the guitars of the Spaniards, made out of the shell of an armadillo) and religious hymns, that also refer to the Indian origin, are sung. At the same time other participants manufacture bastones de mando (out of a certain cactus, cucharilla) and decorations for crosses that are used during the Conchero-dances the following day.

During the Thursday also other groups in the town prepare large stretcher-like wooden structures, parandes, up to some 2 x 8 meters in size that are decorated with embroidered cloths and flowers. Later large breads are fixed on el parande.

On Friday morning Concheros (a deeply religious dance company that only dances in and outside of churches, to the music of conchas) dance at one of the smaller churches in town and thereafter a mass is held. At night there is a procession by other dance companies (often called Aztecas) and with parandes to the main square, where the parandes are put up against the walls in one corner of the square.

The dance companies continue to dance on the main square during the Saturday (except the . Concheros, they only dance in direct relation to a mass and then just outside of, or if the priests so permit, inside the church). As a symbol for that the Indians are christened los bastones de mando are placed at a cross outside the church at the main square.

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