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Mexico’s Purepecha Indigenous group welcomes the New 12 months with historic ‘New Fireplace’ ceremony

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OCUMICHO, Mexico — Guided by their ancestral lunar calendar, members of Mexico’s Purepecha Indigenous group celebrated their very own New 12 months’s Eve — somewhat in a different way than the West’s conventional New 12 months.

The Purepechas, who stay within the western state of Michoacán, protect the pre-Hispanic perception within the “New Fireplace” ceremony, a model of which was additionally practiced by their historic rivals to the east, the Aztecs.

As a result of the Purepechas’ lunar calendar of 18 months leaves an orphan day that belongs to no month, that day — which this yr fell on Thursday — is considered as a time for each mourning and renewal. That’s when a symbolic hearth is extinguished. In previous generations, no hearth was allowed on that day and meals had been eaten chilly, though the prevalence of gasoline and electrical burners has made that out of date.

Then at midnight, a brand new hearth is lit and never allowed to exit till the brand new yr.

That historic ceremony was carried on this week by Antonio Tinoco, 35, who served because the guardian of final yr’s New Fireplace.

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For a yr, Tinoco tended the symbolic flame in Erongarícuaro, a village on the shore of Pátzcuaro Lake. “You take care of it like a baby, and also you feed it,” he mentioned.

“It’s each unhappy and blissful on the identical time,” Tinoco mentioned of Thursday’s ceremony through which his {old} flame was celebrated after which extinguished; a brand new one was lit in its ashes and can be handed on to a brand new guardian in one other city.

“We’re closing a cycle. Final yr we lit a flame, and yesterday we handed it over, and placing it out signified the top of this cycle, and at this time a brand new cycle begins,” Tinoco mentioned.

Every year the guardianship of the fireplace is handed to a special city, so Tinoco bodily carried a portion of final yr’s hearth in a small brazier throughout a three-day stroll over mountain trails to the city of Ocumicho, 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the west.

The steel brazier is suspended on poles between 4 males. It may be a taxing and dangerous activity.

“It may be tough, like kids are,” Tinoco mentioned. “If you’re not cautious, it could actually burn you. Yesterday I felt prefer it was burning my shirt, so I mentioned to myself ‘it looks as if it’s hungry,’ so I fed it and it calmed down.”

Ocumicho is the place the New Fireplace ceremony is being held this yr. There, a brand new guardian can be chosen to have a tendency it and move it on Friday.

However first, on Wednesday night time, the {old} hearth was celebrated after which extinguished. The ladies of Ocumicho ascended a small pyramid product of adobe bricks and poured copal incense on the {old} hearth, earlier than it was extinguished.

That spot is the place the brand new hearth was lastly lit once more round midnight.

The ceremony is a part of an effort to protect ancestral customs among the many Purépecha, lots of whom should migrate to america to earn a residing. A lot of them have additionally spent years preventing in opposition to mining and unlawful logging that concentrate on the pine and fir forests of the mountainous area the place they stay.

Loggers typically clear reduce bushes to plant avocados, a extremely profitable export crop in Michoacán.

Although he acknowledges that Michoacán has its issues, Tinoco says he feels good about carrying on the custom.

“I really feel blissful, I really feel glad with the whole lot that we’ve achieved,” he mentioned.


Observe AP’s protection of Latin America and the Caribbean at https://apnews.com/hub/latin-america

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