• Sara

Mayan or prehispanic ceremony?

Once mayan ceremonies weren’t so popular, but nowadays more and more people are interested in them. So how you should recognize a real mayan ceremony from a fake one? Are there really fake ceremonies?

After 10 years of researching culture and tradition of Mexico, I can say that the way to represent it, depends on interpretation, knowledge and conscience of the people sharing the ceremonies.

During spanish invasion most of books were burned and in the centuries afterwards all native cultures in Mexico were pushed to forget their traditions; it was forbidden for so much time to realize these ceremonies in public, or even to speak their native language, that each family, each community kept this knowledge between them in order not to be persecuted. After many centuries certainly there is not anymore just an original way (and maybe there wasn’t), but different interpretations.

A mayan ceremony might be shared for blessings, for welcoming, for being thankful, to honor the guardians of the place, etc: in mayan world everything is a ceremony as their attention is on the present moment.

A mayan traditional wedding ceremony is held all in mayan language: you will have the altar on a table and an arch decoration on top, to represent the 3 levels of the world and 5 containers for the offerings that symbolize the 4 directions and the center. In different communities they can use different offerings and in some communities the altar is on the floor, that is as well the prehispanic way (they call it Tlalmanalli).

We have the opportunity nowadays to have the ceremony translated into other languages. What you will always find in every altar of every tradition is a reference to the 4 elements and the center: you can find different elements and colours to represent them, depending on the celebrant understanding of the cosmos.

In some communities they mix mayan and catholicism in their ceremonies, would it be less mayan in this case? The people helding it are born maya, so should we call it an interfaith ceremony?

Traditional ceremonies in other communities lasts up to 3 hours, for this reason it's quite difficult that you will be able to assist, as people that aren't from these communities or close to these cultures can't focus the attention on these kind of ceremonies for so long.