Villa Quetzal

Villa Quetzal

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Years Celebration, " Boruca Style"

Costa Rica has several indigenous groups, one of them is the “Boruca Tribe”, this group is located mainly in the Southern Pacific side of the country in a place called “Buenos Aires’, their indigenous reservation includes several communities (El Centro de Boruca, Rey Curré, Changuena, Maíz and Bijagua).
The Borucas are widely known for their beautiful and elaborate crafts; however, they are particularly recognized for the “Fiesta de los “diablitos”, a 3-day festival that starts on December 31 and ends on January 2nd.  
In preparation to this festival, they use balsa wood to make a variety of masks that represent devil faces and are to be worn by the man of the Boruca tribe during the festival.  The objective of the festival is to celebrate the fact that the Spanish Conquistadores did not conquer them because they manage to scare them away.
The “Dance of the Little Devils” or “Baile de los “diablitos” represents the fight between the Spanish conquerors and the Boruca Tribe, also known as brunkas.  The masks play the most important role in the dance.  The bulls, ferocious in appearance, represent the colonist, and the Little Devils or “diablitos” are the natives, the Spaniards called them that way because in their opinion the natives were evil. 
Back on the days of the conquest, this tribe fought with great courage reaching the victory; however, despite the fact that they escaped the iron fist if the colonization, the long term effects of it can be seen in the diminishing number of natives part of the tribe.  Unfortunately, they face a continuous struggle due to the destruction of the flora and fauna surrounding their territory.
The ceremonial masks are sold as the main source of income for the tribe.
The Festival starts on December 30 around 9:00 PM.  Los “diablitos” (kids 14 and older) gather in a clearing at the mountains near the Boruca Town and wait for the call of the “Diablo Mayor” (an older male with experience in prior festivals); he instructs the “diablitos” to start the celebration at the sound of his conch usually at midnight starting on December 31.  The celebration stops around 2:00 AM and resumes around 9:00 AM at the sound of the Conch, the “diablitos” spend the entire day in the community, dancing, eating tamales and drinking chicha, which is the traditional alcoholic beverage made with corn and fermented with yeast.  The “diablitos” pass through town three times a day; this part of the celebration represents the glory of the Boruca tribe prior to the Spanish conquest.
On January 1st, the history telling continues and one new character is added, this is the  “Toro” (Bull), representing the relentless conquest of the Spanish, the role is played by a variety of men in the community, wearing a costume includes a mask made with cedar wood and it has horns from a real bull.  The Toro chases the “diablitos “around the town under the guidance of the Diablo Mayor conch sound.  At first, the “diablitos” are able to resist the Toro; however, as the dance progresses into the morning of January 2, the Toro begins to win, and by 3:00 PM, the Toro has killed all the “diablitos”, this action represents the subjugation of the Boruca Tribe by the Spaniard.  In an amazing twist the “diablitos” start to resurrect themselves one by one, as the “diablitos” come back to life, the ambiance of celebration returns; meantime the “Toro” (bull) is being hunted by the “diablitos” who now have a new helper, “the perro”(the dog).  The “Toro” (Bull) desperately seeks for places to hide while the “diablitos” and the “perro” go around looking for him.  When they find the bull, they capture him and take him to the river where they burn him (the bull custom except for the masks is set on fire), this act represents the ultimate survival of the Boruca tribe and the end of the Festival. 
It is interesting to notice that even though there are many roles played during this dance celebration, none of the roles include women, apparently, the reason why they are not included is because historically, the Boruca women did not have any power in the organization and traditions of the community.  It is important to stress the fact that now days women have a very active role in the community, they participate in the organizational committee and they are well respected for their contribution.
The committee starts planning the festivities on early November because this is the most important and largest event for the Boruca tribe during the year.  This event attracts many tourists, therefore they need to organize the purchasing of food, housing for tourist, and the logistics of the dance itself.  
Marina Lazaro Morales is one of the main contributors, Marina has always lived in Boruca she has raised many children here and now she is one of the key members, she has been involved in commerce and weaving here in Boruca for 25 years.  Marina is small in stature but she has large influence over her village and she is one of the leaders of the Boruca Community.
Boruca women, since pre-Hispanic times have been weavers of fine, naturally dyed cotton textiles that are made into well-crafted woven products: bags, knapsacks, place mats, table-runners, hats etc.  These women are the backbone of the community. 

If you wish to see some of their beautiful crafts, visit their site

No comments:

Post a Comment