The Semetabaj Rituals

The Semetabaj Rituals

A great excitement in my life is being part of a small but thriving community of devout Kaqchiquel Maya who make the most of unceasing rituals and holy days, such as The Semetabaj Rituals. This includes San Juan “Toritos” or “Negritos” bullfighting, which you can see above. My wife’s enormous extended family are all from, or are still in, San Andres Semetabaj, and each member of the family loves to participate in the Semetabaj celebrations.

The video above allows you to experience and enjoy the summer solstice ritual that lasted from June 22nd to June 24th, 2017. Maya rituals are not fossils from the past, frozen in time, but rather are manifestations of living, vibrant, Maya spirituality.  Like this one, they gradually add or modify many elements to adapt to the times.  In the  dances they must be mocking the Spanish cattle ranchers of the region who occasionally had their own local ranchers’ bullfights.  That’s why in these rituals, the main dancers were done up as really over-the-top versions of toreadors with ridiculous masks and garish capes.

It’s amazing for someone like me, a seasoned anthropologist and archaeologist, to fully enjoy and experience the Myan culture – the old and the new, the artifacts and the nuances, the celebrations and the people… then, now, and always.

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