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Tiltepec, Oaxaca


April 1999


Eusebia’s focus is on the community’s traditions and festivals, and how she feels they have declined. She also discusses the changing roles of and respect for the positions of authority in the community. It is clear that Eusebia feels strongly that a lot has been lost in the celebration of the village festivals, lamenting that “it almost isn’t a party for us anymore”. She explains that people are now more reluctant to dance, suggesting “now they’re too embarrassed, shy I think”, but also attributing it to the expense of buying the fabric for the dancing outfits. However, she lays most of the blame on the growing influence of the Evangelical religion: “it’s because of the Evangelical religion, that religion is causing us to lose a lot of respect - customs and traditions”.

She also feels that the community authorities’ workload has lessened, claiming that “the ciudadanos (citizens) demanded a lot from their authorities [in the past]”. She describes some of the obligations that the authorities used to fulfil, explaining how they used to protect “the village by going to the churches of other villages and leaving candles for their own village, so that in that way nothing bad would happen to the village or people when they attended the tequios (obligatory, unpaid community work)”. In her opinion, relinquishing such responsibilities has further diminished the respect in which they are held in the community.

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Section 1-3  Festivals: now they just have rice and beans – before they had meat. She blames the loss of tradition on the arrival of the Evangelical religion. Dances: now people are too embarrassed and “scared” to take part in traditional dances, not least because the expense of fabric and sandals inhibits them.
Section 3-4  The authorities: before people had more respect for them – the cargos (unpaid community positions) involved a lot more work – “they had to go as far as Ixtlán and sleep on the veranda of the agencia (community office)”. Authorities used to “protect” the village by leaving candles in the churches of other villages.
Section 4-5  Priests used to come to say mass – now the Father has his parish there in Yagavila. Some people aren’t baptised because the Father couldn’t come often. Had to pay for children to be baptised. Has never seen the old church – explains how they made tapper candles. Laments simplification of festivals: “the festivals were done with the dances very nicely then, unlike now when they don’t do anything.”
Section 5-6  The role of the kitchen mayordomo. Before a pig had to be sacrificed for All Saints Day. Loss of the musicians. Entering the church: “they used to put holy water in the entrance of the church and anyone who wanted could enter …And today, well, here in this village they enter a church like animals…a lot of respect has been lost.” Now not everyone contributes to the festivals. Again blames the influence of the Evangelicals.