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Mayan Rituals - Guatemala

It is especially in Guatemala that the ancient Mayan rituals survive alongside those of the Christian religion can still be found alive today in a religious syncretism that is unequaled in other parts of the world. In Guatemala, some of these ancient religious traditions have survived thanks to their camouflage since the days of the Spanish conquest. To a careful eye will not escape, visiting Christian churches rather than cemeteries or archaeological sites, to attend the shamanic rituals commissioned for the most varied reasons. The shaman does not look different from the other people we meet on streets and markets. Dressed modestly we see him murmuring formulas handed down from father to son, stoking the embers of a fire or making an animal sacrifice on top of an ancient temple. Shamans are not just men, it is very common to see women also practice this profession. In Chichicastenango, the Spanish churches were built on the ruins of Mayan temples. So inside the church of Santo Tomàs, whose steps located in front of the building are used as the imposing stairs that led to the top of the Mayan pyramids, where especially on Sunday burns the incense of copal resin and the prayer chiefs rotate the censers reciting magic formulas in homage to the ancient Mayan calendar and their ancestors, although a service of order of the confraternity prevents the shooting, we witness the maximum of this mixture. Along the nave, there are Mayan altars, where numerous candles are lit according to precise patterns and devotees pray for the ancestors buried under the church floor as the Mayan kings were in the pyramids. One of the most important aspects of Maya religious syncretism is its polytheistic nature. To a large extent, religion brought by the Spaniards left a great emptiness in many of the functions related to home and land. For this and for other reasons, the ancient deities were not completely replaced by the figures of the new religion of the conquerors. An example of all this is the cult of Maximon. Maximón dates back to the ancient Mayan deity of Rilaj Maam, already mentioned in the Popol Vuh, and is generally represented by a wooden fetish covered with a stuffing of corn leaves, dressed with a layer of various shirts and ties and with one or two hats over the other. He often has a cigar in his mouth. This effigy, much revered by the people of the highlands around Lake Atitlán, is guarded by a member of a confradia (Maya religious brotherhood) and is moved every year to a different place. Devotees bring him offers, like cigarettes and liquor, and ask for blessings. GUATEMALA 2016
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