viernes, 20 de diciembre de 2013

El Cumpleaños de Lupe...

The anniversary of the sighting of the Virgin of Guadalupe, almost five hundred years ago.  Perhaps the most incongruous and colourful event in Mexico, Lupe's birthday is a huge deal for many Mexican's, particularly those who undertake pilgrimages to sites such as this basilica in Mexico City.  I have talked about the Virgin Guadalupe before, here and there, but before this recent birthday of hers I had never seen her worship to such a scale.

Many people came to the Basilica dressed in a shirt or dress bearing the image of the Virgin while others have her portrait strapped to their back, or carry her image as a statue all day; any tangible way to prove the strength of their devotion to la reina de México.  My favourite were the kids with the Virgin capes and the Virgin stamps on their faces.

Prior to this, I had been unfamiliar with the idea of Christianity wrapped so thoroughly in feathers and shrouded in incense.  A paved expanse surrounding the main, circular church which is somewhat reminiscent of a circus tent, was filled with scenes like this one: feathered, colourful people dancing their praise to the Virgin in a haze of incense.

The contrast between the sombreness of the church and the brightly coloured, feathered people dancing is striking.  It reminds me of how the Lupe was used to legitimise the Catholic church in Mexico, to strengthen Spain's hold over the newly found land, but seems to show rebellion as well.  It shows Mexicans accepting her, and thus the Spanish religion, on their own terms.  With all the colour, flourish and jazz that they can squeeze into their devotion, Mexico has truly made Lupe, and this pedacito of Catholicism their own.

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