By Totupica Candelario
Translated by Humberto Fernandez
“Las Latas” Ceremonial Center
1 Tuqui (main temple); 2 xiriki of Yurameka; 3 xiriki of Kee muka; 4 xiriki of Xapa wiyame;
5 xiriki of Tayau; 6 xiriki of Tamaatsi; 7 xiriki of Eeka teiwari; 8 xiriki of Kwixi xure;
9 xiriki de Nariwame and 10 xiriki of Takutsi.
Huichol culture is characterized by carrying on the daily life intimately related to the cycles of nature in a cosmogonical manner, especially with the cycle of maize and rain. For this reason, in each Huichol community there are ceremonial centers where the community is represented to advocate with the ancestors, and thus be in harmony during daily life. Each ceremonial center is in charge of a special group comprised mainly by gourd-bearers (jicareros), spiritual guides, chanting shamans, traditional musicians, etc. These are chosen through the dreams of the ancestors to fulfill this function for a period of five years. During these five years, the gourd-bearers will represent a deity (and therefore a sacred site) and will be the intermediaries to fulfill the obligations that imply being a gourd-bearer, such as: performing the ceremonies (including the sacrifice of a bull, goat or lamb), dear hunting, to carry the offerings to the sacred sites, etc. All this with the purpose of feeding the ancestors that inhabit the sacred sites and in this manner keep them alive.
In the case of the Huichol community of Tuapurie – Santa Catarina Cuexcomatitlan, it counts with four ceremonial centers: 1) Santa Catarina, 2) Ciruelillo, 3) Pochotita and 4) Las Latas. We will explain a bit more of the latter.
In Las Latas, the gourd-bearers began their office in June 2017 and will make the hand over of their office in June 2022. During this cycle, a series of traditional activities must be complied. For instance, every year in the month of September a ceremony is made devoted to the female ancestors, in October a ceremony is made to the corn and squash, and in this January 2020 a ceremony will be made in preparation to commence the pilgrimage to Wirikuta. Upon returning from the pilgrimage by mid-February, another ceremony will be made to refurbish the roofs of the nine xiriki-temples of Las Latas, leaving for May 2022 the refurbishment of the roof of the Tuqui, the main temple.
The xiriki-temples of the ceremonial centers are the equivalent of a chapel and each one is the abode of a distant sacred site. These xiriki are alive, like a person, and for this reason every five years their roofs have to be refurbished, some fixings to the walls and floors are also made. To be able to make this activity, first:
• The marakame (shaman) chants during a whole night to tell the xirikis that the roof refurbishment will be made.
• Then the gourd-bearers will go for several days to a deer hunt to bring the blood and flesh of the deer to the xirikis.
• Upon the return of the hunters, the marakame makes another chant to tell the xirikis that the hunting was fortunate and that what was agreed will be fulfilled.
• After this, the gourd-bearers put to rest the soul of the deer five times, during five days through small rituals and other tasks.
• Then the roofs of the xirikis are taken down and the marakame chants during one night.
• Now the gourd-bearers agree to gather all the materials needed in a month’s time (zacates or wild tall dry-grass, maguey fibers, wooden poles, wood beams, some adobe bricks, etc.) to be able to work on the roofs of the xirikis and leave them like brand new.
Note: all this activity takes around three months, between the hunting, gathering of materials, ceremonies, etc.