Sunday, July 21, 2024

Annual Maya Wedding Re-enactment held in Corozal Town

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Santa Rita archaeological site came alive on Saturday, February 24th, with the annual Maya Wedding Re-enactment event. The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) Corozal Chapter organized the event. It featured local students and a Mexican dance company showcasing the region’s rich Maya-Mestizo history and culture. Attendees enjoyed a night of music, dance, and local Mestizo cuisine.

The event occurred on the sacred grounds of Santa Rita, with the stage set at the primary temple. Before the start of the event, the marching bands of Corozal Community College (CCC) and Escuela Secudarioa Technica Mexico (ESTC) paraded through the main streets of Corozal Town from Central Park to the archaeological site. The scheduled event began at 7PM under the light of the moon. Javier Pech served as the Master of Ceremonies and welcomed everyone in attendance. Centro Escolar Mexico Junior College students performed Belize’s National Anthem in the Mayan language, and a Maya spiritual leader led everyone in a short invocation, giving thanks for the success of the night’s events.
Chairman of BTIA Corozal Chapter, Efren Perez, delivered the official welcome address. He spoke on the cultural significance of Maya Wedding Re-enactment and how events like this benefit the economy of the Corozal community. “While there are many versions of history, for this event, we wish to not focus on the tragedy that impacted and was imposed on the indigenous people of the area by the colonizers, but on the product of what today the Mestizo represent. The Mestizo represents a proud mix of our ancestry. We must not forget that Maya lineage is paramount to the Mestizo identity as the colonizers,” said Perez. He added that the event celebrated resilience, creativity, and cultural continuity. “This performance is a testament to the enduring spirit of the Maya who have preserved their tradition and identity against the tide of time.”
Following was Corozal Bay Area Representative and Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Development and Indigenous People’s Affairs, the Honorable Elvia Samos. She spoke about the economic importance of cultural tourism in Belize and the potential of the Corozal District in developing its tourism products. “The focus of visiting and experiencing ancient Maya Sites provides a unique tourism product for Belize. We are a part of the Mundo Maya and Maya Archeological sites, and culture forms an important part of Belize’s cultural heritage, tourism product, and brand,” said Samos. She also explained that these events should serve as an example of the need to support and provide resource allocation for cultural and historical research and preservation.
The Guadalupe Roman Catholic School students then delighted the crowd with two Mestizo cultural dances before Corozal Town Mayor Rigo Vellos took to the podium to deliver another short address. He spoke on the town’s cultural pride and thanked the organizers for organizing such an important event for the community and visitors.
With formalities complete, the show began. Corozal Junior College students Maria Jose Maldonado and Amilcar Zatina presented the historical rendition of Santa Rita. Then, the spotlight illuminated the Maya temple and the sound of the ancient past; the talented Ballet Folklorico de Quinatanroo performers presented their rendition of the wedding between a Spanish conquistador and a Maya princess.

The tale of Gonzalo Guerro, a Spanish sailor who was wrecked off the coast of the once thriving Maya area of Chactemal set the stage for the presentation. Unlike other captured Spaniards who were either killed, sacrificed, or worked to death, Guerro not only survived but assimilated into the Maya culture, fighting for the people and becoming part of the community. It is believed he earned much respect from the Maya and was married to Princess Zazil Ha, the daughter of the Maya Chief Na Chan. Their three children are considered the first Mestizo (meaning mixed).

The wedding re-enactment was a magical performance, blending cultural costumes, dance, and music to bring the story to life. The atmosphere then turned festive as ESTM and CCC Marching Band each performed elaborately choreographed dances to the tunes of musical instruments. The youth marching bands entertained the crowd well, who cheered them on with roaring applause. The Ballet Folklorico de Quintana Roo also showcased their skills with various Maya Mestizo dances dressed in traditional huipils and ternos. In conclusion of the event, a Maya Fire Ball and traditional pok ta pok game were demonstrated by a team from Yo Creek.

Throughout the performance, guests enjoyed delicious tamales, maja blanco, and atole, all traditional Mestizo cuisine. The night’s event ended with a Vote of Thanks address by Lisbeth Cabral, Vice Chair of the Corozal BTIA. Organizers hope the Maya Wedding Re-enactment can help promote the Satan Rita Archaeological site as a wedding garden venue and increase the region’s tourism industry.

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