Hundreds dance, sing in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Phoenix

Lee in spanish

A procession filled with Aztec dancers, mojigangas and chariots with reenactments of the Virgin Mary passed through downtown Phoenix and reached the courtyard of the Roman Catholic Basilica of Saint Mary on Saturday.

The procession, hosted by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, began at the corner of Washington and 8th Street and ended with an outdoor mass and prayer of the Rosary in front of the basilica.

The colorful and musical event – made up of more than 60 groups representing churches, dance troupes and musicians – kicked off the nine-day Novena of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Mexican Catholic celebration that ends on the day of the feast of the patron saint of Mexico.

The feast commemorates the story of the apparition of the Virgin Mary to Saint Juan Diego in 1531 at the site that now houses the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

In Mexico, the 9-day period is observed with daily processions, reenactments and prayers, culminating in a celebration that begins with a mass at midnight on December 12 and a festival-like celebration that lasts most of the day. .

Aztec dancers participate in the procession in commemoration of Our Lady of Guadalupe in downtown Phoenix on December 4, 2021.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of devout Catholics make a pilgrimage to the Basilica in Mexico City at the start of the novena to pay homage to the Virgin of Guadalupe.

For immigrants and the children of immigrants in Phoenix, this celebration offers a part of home.

After 10 years of performing, Karen Carillo, who danced with the Danza Morenita Del Tepeyac at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Phoenix, still feels a spiritual connection.

“When we start dancing we thank the Virgin Mary and thank God for giving us another day to be able to do it for them,” she said. “Basically, I’m just talking to her while I’m doing the dance.”

She can’t think of a better way to express her faith than through dancing, which also connects her to her family. The dance group of about a dozen consisted of siblings and other close family members.

People from across the valley participated in the procession in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe in downtown Phoenix on December 4, 2021.

The same goes for Miguel Tapia, who worked with his family to build a “nacimiento” or live nativity scene of the birth of Christ in the back of their truck, which was part of Saturday’s procession.

“It started with my mother, who had a party every December 12 for the Virgin Mary,” he said. “And then we got to know a guy where we grew up in Mexico who came and taught us a dance that he knew.”

His 8 and 6 year old daughters and their cousins ​​were part of the float. One of his daughters was dressed as the Virgin Mary.

The pandemic had prevented the procession from being held downtown in 2020. Instead, smaller processions were held around the valley.

“Last year I still felt good,” said Jose Mejia, a dancer who wore a “mojiganga,” a large papier-mâché puppet, during the procession. “But it was short, pretty much just a block or two walk away. It was very quick compared to what it usually is.

This year, I still didn’t feel well. “There were still a lot less people today,” he explains. “A lot of the seats were empty. Two, three years ago, all the front seats were packed.

People were still worried about the pandemic, he guessed. Mejia also used to dance in a group, but the group was getting smaller. Last year, her mother, who started the group, decided to start making “mojigangas” in order to continue being a part of the parade.

But Mejia misses the dance.

“I feel like it makes me unique,” ​​he said. “I grew up in Mexico, then I came to the United States. And when I first got here … I felt like I didn’t fit in. So this day – my culture, dance and food – that’s what makes me different and makes me unique.

Being a part of this demonstration of Mexican culture in Phoenix makes him feel right at home, Mejia said.

His hope is that this event grows as much as it has in years past. “It would be just good to see him again. Traditions from Mexico that were imported to the United States »

Contact La Voz reporter Miguel Torres at or on Twitter @MTorresTweet.

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