We met with Bishop Rossolino Bianchety in Santa Cruz El Quiche. He explained a mural of the armed conflict, from normal life to violence, genocide, suppression and martyrdom, to peace, wholeness, and restoration. The bishop has been active in economic freedom, woman’s rights, and recovery for survivors of violence. We also heard from the mayor of Santo Domingo. He said that the current changes are still working against a system of repression and that only fundamental changes in hearts and thoughts will bring changes in the system.
We then traveled on to Nebaj. We met with FUNDAMAYO a group dedicated to promoting Mayan culture and studies and to pass it on to the next generations. We attended the celebration of the Mayan New Year with the Ixil people. The elders offered a prayer in 10 stages around the ceremonial fire. Then they held a cleansing rite for individuals. People would come forward with candles and small branches. An elder would rub the candle over them and lightly whip them with the branches to remove the evil energies from them. Then the candles were burned. We met with the elders after the ceremony and they explained some of the ceremony as well as telling us excitedly about their new school that would bring their children up with Mayan teachings.
Also, they told of a recent election in which their mayor won against an opponent that did not support Mayan teaching and self-government. That candidate was supported by the national government, and they considered the mayor’s reelection a spiritual victory. The celebration proceeded through the night with two more repetitions of the ceremony.