Indigenous migrants will replicate ancient colorful festival called La Guelaguetza 2009

By Bertha Rodríguez
Photos: Chris Schneider

Fresno, CA.- On behalf of the indigenous immigrant communities in California, the Binational Center for the Development of Oaxacan Indigenous Communities (CBDIO) and the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations (FIOB), are honored to announce the XI edition of La Guelaguetza 2009, that will take place on September 27, 2009.

La Guelaguetza is the most traditional and well-known festival in Oaxaca, Mexico, and for many years it has also been celebrated by Oaxacan immigrants in California, in cities such as Los Angeles, Fresno, San Diego, San Marcos, Santa Cruz, Santa Maria and Oxnard, among other places where there is significant presence of Oaxacan immigrants.

This popular festivity has its origins in Pre-Columbian times when our ancestors from the 8 regions of Oaxaca got together to give offerings to the goddess of rain, nature, corn and fertility, Bidoo Cozobi or Centéotl to thank her for the rich harvests. The word Guelaguetza comes from the Zapotec Guenda-Lizaa, which means “friendship”, “sharing” and “helping each other”.

In ancient times, the indigenous peoples would gather at la Guelaguetza to honor their deity offering her flowers, fruits or any kind of produce from their regions. Through la Guelaguetza they used to reassert their cultural identity since members of the communities would share their traditional dances, music, food, drinks or products made with their hands to nourish the participants.

Since 1945, this festival has been celebrated in Oaxaca City the last two Mondays of July. Through time, the government of Oaxaca, transformed this genuine celebration into a commercial show for tourists. However, since 2006, the Popular Assembly of Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) started a Guelaguetza Popular that is admission-free and any person can participate in it.

In California, la Guelaguetza started by the Oaxacan immigrant community. The first Guelaguetza was organized by the Organización Regional Oaxaqueña (ORO), in Los Angeles in 1988 and in Fresno, it has been celebrated by CBDIO-FIOB since 1999.

This year in Fresno, la Guelaguetza will take place at the

Royce Hall of Fresno High School, located at 1839 Echo Avenue, Fresno, California 93704, starting from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

People will be able to enjoy the performances of Ballet Folclórico Nueva Antequera, Ballet Folclórico Pochtlán, and Yatzachi El Bajo band. There will be delicious traditional Oaxacan Food and handicrafts sale. Donation: $ 8:00 before the event, $10.00 at the door and free admission for children under 12. For more information call (559) 499-1178.
To see more pictures of past Guelaguetzas click here
Imágenes por Chris Schneider

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