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Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Calenda "Tepalcate"

I went to my first Calenda in Ixtepec this week. A calenda is a tradional parade that is common throughout the Isthmus here in Mexico. Most of the Calendas take place in September which is the main festival month, but there are a few others which occur throughout the year.

The Calenda starts off when a host family invites a select number of people to their house for food and drinks. When the eating and drinking is finished within the house, the small number of people make their way out on to the street and start to walk. As they walk along, they are joined by more and more people as they pass through the city. Various bands and people carrying instruments join in until everyone is singing, dancing and drinking their way through the streets of Ixteptec.

I'm not sure how long the parade actually goes on for as we didn't follow it right from the start. We waited in one of the squares near my house until the parade made its way past, where we jumped in. This proved to be a good decision as I wasn't quite prepared for the distance we were about to have to walk and dance! The atmosphere was really lively throughout the whole parade. I think a large factor in this was that there were people carrying large containers of some kind of alcoholic drink which they used to keep everyone's cups consistently full.

After everyone sang and danced their way through the streets of Ixtepec, we eventually arrived outside a church on top of a hill. Beside the church there was a large handmade wooden structure with loads of fireworks atttached to it.

There was a brief fireworks display followed by the running of the 'toritos'. The toritos consisted of men carrying wooden bull structures, held high above their heads. The toritos were also adorned with many fireworks. The toritos then proceded to run around in the crowds of spectators showering them with fireworks. Initially i felt that maybe because i am a foreigner and not accustomed to this tradition, my fear of being mutilated by a firework was somewhat irrational but soon i realised that the local folk reacted in much the same fashion, by running away!

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