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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Feast Day at Laguna Pueblo

A short post on the final event of the week of spring break.  On Thursday of that week, my friend Maryam and I headed west early enough in the morning to get home to Albuquerque by dinnertime that evening. We drove the rented Ford Escape like bats out of hell, while listening to a couple of audio books I'd brought with me from the library.  It's quite surprising how much faster an audio book can make a trip.  On my way from ABQ to Dallas I listened to most of a not-terrific mystery by Lisa Scottoline, and although she's no one I have to read more of, it certainly made the miles fly by. It was wonderful though to have live human company as well as a recorded voice on the trip home, someone to pass the trail mix bag across the seats and take turns pumping gas.  We had already caught up on news and gossip while I was in Dallas, so we could enjoy listening to stories, Maryam knitted while not driving, and I just vegged when she drove.  Knitting is not in my bag of tricks.  Alas.

Friday we had a power breakfast in order to last through what had the possibility of being a long day; and drove west on I40 to the pueblo of Laguna for the big spring feast day, March 19, Feast of St. Joseph.  Joseph is the patron saint of the pueblo, and all the villages belonging to this pueblo come together to celebrate with dancing and feasting on this day.  My partner, Gail, works with a woman who is from the pueblo, and she, her daughter and mother were to be dancing in the festivities.  The idea of Catholic saints as patrons of the pueblos is perhaps startling to many, but is really no different than what happened all over the Old World when missionaries started converting the tribes and peoples of those times and places: a rich mixture of ancient spirituality was taken in and became part of the new Christian religion.  There is currently an exhibit at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center here in Albuquerque that features this tradition here in New Mexico: Saints of the Pueblos will be on display through next year and is worth a couple of visits.

We arrived at Laguna in time to watch a good deal of the morning dancing, in weather that flipflopped between bright sunshine and rain showers.  When the dancers broke for lunch, we found Gail's friend Kim and her family, and were invited to follow them to the house where they were going to eat lunch.  Once we had set foot through the doorway, we were automatically part of the lunch crowd.  As our hostess Julia said: "If you come into my house on this day, you stay and eat in my house."  So, of course we did.  We felt quite honored to be included, eating with the dancers in their beautiful regalia.  After lunch we thought we would be able to see more dancing, but soon after we left the shelter of Julia's home, a huge wind came up, whipping the dust and sand into our eyes, forcing the vendors to start taking down their booths and tents.  The wind soon brought stinging hail and freezing rain out of the scary black clouds that had been threatening (see photos), and we three decided to give up and head home.  Taking pictures of the dancers, or the pueblo in general is not allowed, but it is possible to take pictures of the church.  This Mission Church of San José de Laguna is three hundred years old, and is the heart of the pueblo.  I wish I had been able to take photos of the lovely paintings on the inside walls of the church, but had to content myself with the exterior only. We drove home in rain, hail, even some snow, in a wind which made keeping the car on the road a real challenge.

The santero, Charles M. Carrillo,  who created the retablos in the exhibit mentioned above also has a book by the same name as the exhibit, Saints of the Pueblos, where he explores this topic in depth.  I think I may have to buy it and get a little better informed on the Pueblos and their Santos.  There will be more feast days ahead, and hopefully once we retire ((soon, very very soon) we can have the time to explore many more of them.


Maryam said...

It was worth the trip, even with the wind and dust and rain...I loved it. My only regret: we didn't manage to buy any fry bread. My favorite part of the dances: the child dancer with his painted sticks.

marigolds2 said...

Yes, well, you'll just have to come back for more Feast Days and fry bread. There's a wonderful event at Walatowa (Jemez) Pueblo on Memorial Weekend, the Annual Red Rods Arts and Crafts Show. I think you should start planning to come out for this. All the fry bread you can eat, and a world of beautiful jewelry, and more.

marigolds2 said...

Ahhh, sleepy fingers. That should of course have been: Red ROCKS, not Rods, which sounds vaguely pornographic. Or perhaps not so vaguely.