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Latin America Travel & Tour Information

01 octubre 2013

Meeting Pascual Abaj in Chichicastenango

Meeting Pascual Abaj in Chichicastenango

On any given Sunday or Thursday (both market days), way up on the top of a hill behind the market town of Chichicastenango, you can witness the unusual and fascinating rituals and tributes to the Mayan deity Pascual Abaj. To get there you must past the Mask Museum and head up a pine needle strewn track. The name Pascual has Spanish routes while Abaj means 'stone' in the kìche language. The deity is represented in an anthropomorphic shaped stone which has been chopped at and abused by various non-believers over the centuries. It's blackened form still remains as a tribute to the strength of its shamans, healers and followers.

 Up there on the hill, you can witness healers answering a calling to come and help heal those who ask and require it. They spread out their ritualistic paraphernalia, such as flower petals, incense resins, candles of red, green, white, yellow and black and fire, in a just-so manner, spray the sick with alcohol, wave healing herbs in their general direction and rub eggs (in their shells) over their bodies, going through a time-honoured ritual asking for help from their god Pascual Abaj.     
 
The colour of each candle represents a different task required by Pascual Abaj which relates to the following themes: 
 
Blue= Travel, Business  
Green= Nature  
Black= Death   
Yellow= Light/goodluck   
Red = Protection from enemies and business competion   
White = Marriage/goodluck    
 Light Blue = Men    
 Pink = Women     
 
If an individual is particularly in need of assistance they will even sacrifice a rooster brought specially for this purpose. His headless body will be left to dance his last dance on the altar among the candles and flowers and his head placed reverently on that of Pascual Abaj´s. It is a special ceremony to witness and definitely not for the faint hearted due to the brutal death that the rooster suffers at the end of the blunt machete (they do though endeavour to get it drunk first). They then strike up a ritualized dance which has to be performed well so as the roster's death was not in vain.        
 
It is a ritual worth seeing in order to understand a little more of this definite pre-colombian religion practiced by these fascinating people. Down in the market you will find many official guides willing to show you the way to the hilltop giving you an explanation.

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