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4.17.2006

 

Holy week in Guatemala


A holy week procession, complete with an "alfombra," or rug, usually made of flower petals or colored sand.

Gringoperdido is a blogger at Anthropology.net who lives in Guatemala and made these observations of the country's lead-up to Easter:
This whole week is rife with pagany goodness throughout the Christian world. In the US and Western Europe, the strange fascination with bunnies and eggs predates Christianity, while here in Mayaland, the idea of sacrifice transcends time (so does resurrection, incidentally, but sacrifice is a biggie). [snip]

In several of the bigger Maya communities, there are wonderfully ideosyncratic variations of traditonal Catholic ceremonies. On the shores of Lake Atitlan, for example, one village has 2 processions--one for Jesus and another for
Maximon, a local "dark saint" who, depending on who you talk with, is a version of Satan, Judas, or one of several Precolumbian gods. But all agree that he really likes alcohol, cigarettes, and his various shrines are visited a lot by prostitutes, drug traffickers, and others from the fringe of society. When the two processions meet, there's apparently a mock battle between the two groups (which I believe Jesus wins).
I looked up this Maximon character (I always find the dark saints and deities more interesting) and found a description of him at Lucky Mojo.com:

The "man in black" seen on many Guatemalan folk charms is Maximon (pronounced "Mashimon"), a local deity also know as Hermano San Simon, "Brother Saint Simon Peter." Maximon is actually a pre-Columbian Mayan god of the underworld formerly known as Maam ("grandfather"); his modern name is a conflation of Maam and Simon. Contemporary images do not depict the deity himself, but rather a life-sized carved wooden statue of the god dressed in 20th century clothing. He is portrayed as a mustached man seated outdoors at a crossroads, wearing a black suit, red tie, and wide-brimmed hat.
Finally, here's a votive image of the man himself. The grandfather of Mayan deities. Or, perhaps Godfather would be more appropriate...


A saint with a deal you can't refuse: "Maximon", a.k.a. "Hermano San Simon", a.k.a. " Maam."

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