13 October 2013

Fiesta of the Virgin of Zapopan

I haven't ever lived in a solidly Catholic country before and I plan to enjoy it while I'm here.  I'm used to seeing Jews and Muslims in their religious clothing, but I love walking into stores and finding nuns inside.

So yesterday we went to the first big Catholic fiesta that's happened since we got here.  The Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan is a huge church in Zapopan, what is now basically a suburb of Guadalajara.  It started to be built in 1689.  I haven't been inside yet because we could go in yesterday, but it really is an interesting building.

The Virgin of Zapopan is the patron saint of the state of Jalisco.  She mostly stays in the basilica in Zapopan, but every summer she goes on a tour around Jalisco for about four months.  From what I understand, the image of the Virgin is taken around Jalisco during the rainy season because she protects the people from storms and lightning.  Then every October 12 there is a pilgrimage from the main cathedral in Guadalajara to the basilica beginning at dawn.  It's about a 8 kilometer walk and many, many people make the pilgrimage.

We got to the basilica around 8:30. There were people who'd slept there overnight, but it wasn't really crowded there yet.  We walked down a little further where we could see the rest of the parade, because it wasn't just the pilgrims who were there.  There were a huge number of Native Americans who danced the entire 8 km.  They were fascinating to watch.

The image of the virgin made it to where we were around 11.  She had been pulled in a rather ornate vehicle to the main archway leading to the basilica and was transferred to another conveyance.  There were so many people by that point that we didn't try to see the rest.

Next year I think it would be interesting to be in Guadalajara to see that side of things.

And since we hadn't eaten anything and it was nearly lunchtime, we stopped for some tamales (which I'd never before eaten as street food with my hands- it worked surprisingly well), chopped-up fruit, and grapefruit juice.  Then we found a place where there were lots of ranchers from Tlaquepaque with their horses and watched them while we ate. Oh, and I tried a chocolate drink (I can't remember the name) that was milky and chocolatey and warm.  I really liked it.

This was obviously a huge production for Zapopan.  It was really well-organized.  They say that at least 1 million people participate in some way.

I do have photos to post, but apparently I've sent blogger into shock at the idea that I would actually post photos again, so I'll try again later.

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