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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
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
los bastones de mando are placed at a cross outside the church at the
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