In the Copper Canyon region, there’s a blend of old-world tradition and new-world tradition. Native rites and contemporary Catholicism blend together. During Holy Week (semana santa), there are a number of distinct rituals that play out.
Outside of Urique, in a small village called Coronado, the surrounding communities come together for an event surrounded by demons, angels, corn beer, and theatrics.
Several players paint themselves in black and white paint and arm themselves with swords, halloween masks, toy guns, and run around the chapel as symbolic demons attempting to penetrate and destroy the holiest site in the community. Other players, mostly young boys arms with spears, burst from the chapel doors and chase the demons away.
This goes on for a full twenty-four hours.
A procession, all of the other citizens who aren’t play-acting, light candles and walk both around and through the chapel, all throughout the night. Wreathes of smoke and fire-lit faces dot the black night. Folks on the side, attending to watch and cheer the defenders – like spectators at a sporting event – drink corn-beer and talk amongst themselves.
This is both spectacle and ritual, secular and religious, communal and personal.
It is one of the most unique expressions of faith and community I have ever seen in my entire life.