On May 17th and 18th El Santuario de Chimayo will be the site of a velacion y ceremonia that comes from Chalma, Estado de Mexico, Mexico. Danzantes from many parts of New Mexico and other parts of the Southwest will come together to honor El Cristo Negro de Chalma. I have been participating with this ceremonia for about 6 or seven years and I have been celebrating with my family for the fourth year. Amanda and I are the pardrinos of the Cendal, which is a cloth decorated with flowers that dresses the cross. This is our second year as padrinos. It has been one of the greatest honors bestowed on my family. As the days come closure to Friday we prepare the Cendal for the velacion y ceremonia. This time of year has similar spiritual gifts as the ones I gain during Cuaresma and Semana Santa. It is a time for spiritual healing, reflection, growth and re-energizing me for one more year of working with the ills that affect my community.
The Danzantes we have met in the past few years have become more they just friends. We have become familia. We have connected with a common spirituality that is difficult to describe with words. It can only be described in that prayer we share and offer for each other. I am also honored that the Danzantes have entrusted me to document this ceremony for them with my photography and I am thankful for the opportunity to learn about it as well. In respecting the sacredness of the ceremonia I don’t share the images I capture except for a couple which are at the end of this text. I believe that it is my obligation and duty as a photographer to respect the sacredness of ceremonia.
Many blessing have come to my little family of four. We have been given the opportunity to participate in a ceremony that has been here since pre-colonialization by Europeans. I am honored to be a part of this wonderful group of people whose heart and soul as huge as the universe. This weekend will be filed with prayer, blessings and great gente coming together in honor El Señor de Chalma y El Señor de Esquipula. Please come and join us in prayer.
Photos used with permission by the Danzantes. Always keeping in mind that Danza is a sacred ceremony and a prayer. Please respect the photos by not downloading if you are not a danzante or do not have their permission. Thank you for understanding and respecting this sacred tradition.