■So so impressed!! Esotericism of San Juan Chamula)
San Juan Chamula village is far from San Cristóbal de las Casas, taking 30 minutes by COLECTIVO.
In the central area, there is the Iglesia de San Juan Bautista, which has green and white facade with cute decoration. On the plaza in front of the church, Maya people wearing traditional clothes sell vegetables or textiles. Every Sunday, there is a big market here.
Inside of the church is so amazing!!!(Entrance fee is 20 Mexico peso, and photograph is prohibited.)
When Spanish came here, they built the church for Christian missionary, however the local religion was alive together.
Inside, we can not see Christian Mass, but a kind of ‘Arcane.’ So surprised!!
■Into the wonderful church!
When we entered from a small gate, we gradually could see the dark inside. On the floor, there was no chair, however instead of it, we could see a lot of green leaves of pine, covering all the tile floor.
Is it a catholic church? No?
Anyway, I don’t know any place like this.
Inside, pungent smell like pine tar and white smoke were full.They seemed to burn pine torches, so I felt lack of oxygen a little.
Walking inside little by little.
Almost believers wearing Maya traditional cloth directly sit on the floor and lit each candle and stand it on the floor. Floor is decorated by a myriad of candles, so we could not walk freely!
There were 7 or 8 groups of believers, consisting almost women and children.
At each group, a man like shaman was there, and he seemed to do a spell or listen the story of believers.
Actually I didn’t understand what he did, but clearly he was likely to be in different position from others.
With this view, I was already overwhelmed by the “out-of-the-ordinary”.
All motions of people looks slow and mysteriously, I could not hear voices of other people.
When I thought ‘Why is it?’, I found the 8 beat of extremely monotonous rhythm of the accordion.
The conservative and gentle rhythm…
2 or 3 performance teams of men ,with accordion, flute and maraca, endlessly repeat the rhythm.
Such as the heart beating of the old man, it sounded gently and small.
When I listened the sound all the time, I felt as if I had been faith in this religion from the old days.
(Actually, I am not Christian nor This religion believer. )
Sound echoing from the world of prayers…
■Evoking deep emotion, prayer space
Along the wall of the left and right of the church, as the only church likeness, statues of the great men of Christianity stand. In front of them, a myriad of candles are there.
I saw some men wearing white fur and some ones wearing black fur, who have a small bucket with burning pine charcoal. They sprinkled the smoke around the statues.
Anyway, inside of the church, a myriad of candles were shining, so I felt as if I was in the sea of light. And smokes…. It was also like above cloud.
When we went to the opposite side in the church, we turned around. We found some big white bands of light from high windows. These crossed with smokes inside, then inside the church was all white…..
The conservative and gentle rhythm of accordion…
Kana was moved so much and cried.
After stopping the performance, a man with a glass bottle came to each person, and handed some clear liquid to everyone.
Sure, I got it. However it was so so strong alcohol from corns.
When I drunk it, I was coughing a lot because it is too strong. Everybody around me laughed a lot. However My heart was warm and connected with their hearts a little.
Chamula has an aspect of so much Tourism, but I think this church is worth to visit.
I will recommend it!!
At Part II, I write about Zinacantán village and how to go to Chamula from San Cristóbal de las Casas.