Friday, July 20, 2007

Happy Lempira Day!







Today is a holiday in Honduras, celebrating the Honduran hero, Lenca Indian Chief Lempira, who, according to the legends, united different Lenca tribes to fight against the Spanish conquistadors in the early 1500's.(For more about the chief, here is his Wikipedia article.) His name may sound familiar to you, as the Honduran currency is named after him. That's him, on the right side of the one Lempira bill.



On the Honduran island where we used to live, the children in the kindergarten dressed up as Indians, and marched in a 10 minute parade, accompanied by the high school marching band (all percussion). Lempira Day was a sweet little moment, and the parents all came out to watch, but really it was not a big deal.

Here in Gracias Lempira, the capital of the department named for Chief Lempira and the home of the Lenca Indians, however, the day commemorating Lempira is a major event, and a boon to the local economy. Tourists come from all over Honduras to see the parade, and to participate in the other events, including a rodeo, concert, carnival, and a festival in the park, with many booths set up for vendors.



The parade has grown into a celebration of the entire heritage of the people of the department of Lempira; it is more then just a recognition of the accomplishments of Chief Lempira. The parade celebrates the local Lenca Indian heritage, the Indian warriors who fought with Lempira, the agricultural lifestyle of the residents of this mountain area, the conquistadors, the Spanish missionaries, and the current 'cowboy culture.' All of the schools participate, and each school (or each grade within a school) portrays a particular aspect of local history. One section of the parade even recognizes each municipality in the department, by name.













The costumes are homemade, and they vary in sophistication . . . but it really is amazing to see the fabulous creations which can come together using dried corn and beans, leather, feathers, palm fronds, bits of terra cotta, etc.










I love Lempira Day! This whole town is just so much fun!

7 comments:

Lorri said...

Great pictures, thanks so much for sharing! What is the significance of the woman holding the doll?

Sharon Jones - sltmjones@hotmail.com said...

Dear Trish:
What gorgeous costumes and lovely photos. What day of the year do they celebrate this holiday? Maybe next year my husband and I could attend. Also, is there a significance for the colored patches on the shirt and jeans of the men in one of the photos? Thanks again for sharing and what a lovely festival and imaginative costumes.
Guanaja Sharon

Trish said...

Hi Lorri - I'm so glad you like the pictures. My daughter took them, I did the choosing, and cropped some of them.

I believe the doll simply represents that the wives of farmers are always pregnant, or are carrying small children while they work. The remarkable 'whiteness' of the doll stems from the remarkable unavailability of ethnically appropriate dolls here, I think!

Hey Sharon - Lempira Day is the 20th of July. If you come, make sure to reserve hotel space, as things get full during the festivities. I'd recommend Hotel Guancascos, or the Hotel Finca El Capitan. Both are very nice. Froni, at Guancascos, speaks English, and would be able to give you specific info on the dates and times of the activities.

The patches, I think, are just to show how exceptionally poor the farmers are. This part of Honduras has been officially recognized by the current government as the poorest part of Honduras . . . which, you'll have to agree, is really saying something!

I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures!

Juan said...

Thanks for posting this wonderful pictures. You brought back great memories of Gracias the town where I grew up.
I now live in Oregon but I will be in Gracias soon.

Thanks again.

Juan Carlos
www.willamettephoto.com

Juan said...

Thanks for posting this wonderful pictures. You brought back great memories of Gracias the town where I grew up.
I now live in Oregon but I will be in Gracias soon.

Thanks again.

Juan Carlos
www.willamettephoto.com

Trish said...

Hi Juan,

I'm glad you dropped by . . . and I've very glad you enjoyed the pictures of Gracias. This is a wonderful place to live, and we are enjoying it a lot!

Oh, I appreciated seeing your photography, by the way. If you take pictures while you are here in Gracias, I'd love to see them!

JoJo said...

Hello Tris.

My mother is from honduras and we recently passed by Gracias on our way to Lempira. It is a beautiful village and I miss it a lot. Maybe the next time i go which will be in the summer, I will take some pictures and share them with you. Thank you for giving me some pictures of the country that I love the most, even if I was born in the United States. thank you very much!

Josefina Castellanos