X’ocen: a rural community where Maya ancestral ceremonies still very much alive

(Photo: Yucatan Today)

X’ocen is a pre-Hispanic sanctuary, and one of the Maya communities that displays deeper cultural roots in all the Yucatan Peninsula.

Each year a season of the play “Momentos Sagrados Mayas” (Sacred Maya Moments) is presented in X’ocen, near Valladolid, written and directed by María Alicia Martínez Medrano, on a natural open-air stage. This play received the recognition “Reconocimiento a la Diversidad del Producto Turístico Mexicano” (back in 2013), given by the Secretaría de Turismo (SECTUR México).

(Photo: Yucatan Today)

The cast includes native Maya residents of X’ocen, Dzitnup, Nohzuytún, San Silverio, Tekom, Tikuch, Xuilub and Yalchén.  There are 300 actors of all ages, and for over two decades they have received theater, dance, and music instruction offered in each community by the Laboratorio de Teatro Campesino e Indígena, who, through theater, seeks to contribute to the rescue of indigenous arts, and the integral development of children and youth, improving the quality of life of marginal populations in Mexico.

The play is the synthesis of a pre-Hispanic Maya / Mestiza / indigenous festival from the east part of the Yucatán Peninsula; a tradition which accumulated centennial symbols and mystics, blended with the daily tasks of people who pray, cook, eat, dance, laugh, and promise for themselves, for their families, and for humanity. And every year they fulfill their promise of giving seeds, fruits, dance, incense, and joy to the gods, to receive blessings in return.

(Photo: Yucatan Today)

Traditions and daily tasks are re-created in this play which begins with the offerings of the H’Menes (Maya priests) and the village preparations.

Pilgrims arrive from other villages with prayers, flowers, candles; children invade the scene with games and songs; women and men bring embroidery, firewood, hammocks; young men court charming maidens. These are the scenes of the village preparing for the most important celebration of the year which begins with an explosion of fireworks announcing the arrival of the Ceibo (Yaxché) amidst shouts of jubilation from the men who carry it on their backs. Thirteen maidens lead the ritual dance and veneration of the sacred tree.

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