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Feb 6, 2015

Traditional Maya Wedding at Santa Rita

On Thursday night in Corozal, the Santa Rita Maya Monument came to life as residents gathered to witness a traditional Maya wedding. Archaeologists believe that Santa Rita is the ancient city of Chactemal (Chetumal), which was occupied from 2000 BC to 1530 AD and that it was an important center for the trade of honey, vanilla and cacao. But now, the well preserved structure is inspiring cultural tourism in the north. News Five’s Duane Moody reports from Corozal.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Once the ancient Maya city of Chactemal (Chetumal), Santa Rita stands proudly at the northern entrance of Corozal Town. It was once a trading centre and is considered the birthplace of the Mestizo culture. That was centuries ago, but now the temple serves as a beacon for the tangible Mayan culture within Belize and Mexico. But what about the nonmaterial cultural heritage of the Mayan people; such as the language and tradition? In an effort to stimulate that rich culture, on Thursday night, the re-enactment of an old-fashioned wedding took place at the altar.

 

Roy Rodriguez

Roy Rodriguez, Historian

“You will recall that on the winter solstice of 2012, we celebrated with a reenactment at this temple the wedding of Gonzalo Guerrero, a Spanish Conquistador and Renegade to Zazil Há, the Princess Daughter of Nachan Can’s, the Chief of the Chactemal Maya Province, five hundred years ago. Indeed, a unique historic occasion because this union and their three children made this Chactemal Corozal Ceremonial Center in northern Belize, the birthplace of the Mestizos, la cuna del Mestisaje in all of the Americas…just about twenty years after Columbus’s arrival in the Caribbean.”

 

The event was organized by the Corozal Chapter of the Belize Tourism Industry Association and the National Institute of Culture and History and seeks to raise funds for the restoration of the Maya monument.  The idea is to make the Santa Rita Maya Temple a spiritual wedding garden…and is open to newly engaged couples, persons renewing their vows or for those celebrating a milestone in their lives.

 

Dalia Castillo

Dalia Castillo, B.T.I.A., Corozal Chapter

“I have seen it for my third time here and it is still impressive and amazing. I am sure that the word will get along and because of its uniqueness and I think, we here, are very fortunate to have such a site of this kind—the culture and the history. And one thing too that we can brag about is that we are the pioneers here in the whole country. We thought of this idea of a reenactment and of course the site calls for that. There was a wedding here so the reenactment that we did has really caused an impression to many people that have seen it. And it will be a very good development for Corozal.”

 

To ensure that the history of the Mayan people is not lost, students from Corozal Junior College, Guadalupe Government School and Ballet Folklorico de Quintana Roo participated in the presentation.

 

Rosita May

Rosita May, B.T.I.A., Corozal Branch

“It has been ignored; it has been left alone if you will. The reason why we have the passion to get this site restored is because of the history. We believe that the history of Santa Rita is so immense, is so important for the people of the north. So for us, one is the historical importance and secondly we also understand, being the tourism industry, we realize that the development of cultural tourism component is very important for the tourism industry.”

 

Historian, Roy Rodriguez also spoke of the Maya Chactemal Corozal Temple Project.

 

Roy Rodriguez

“It is the complete restoration of the temple, more Maya cultural presentations at the temple. But first and foremost is the dream, the plan to make this ceremonial center a spiritual wedding garden—not only to perform a wedding reenactment that is going to happen tonight—but to perform a real Maya wedding ceremony using Maya rituals.”

 

Rosita May

“We are very hopeful, very optimistic that we will succeed in this project because we are getting more and more community people involved. You noticed today, we had a very low-key position. It is the community that took over and that is where I see that we are getting this plan, to get the community involved.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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2 Responses for “Traditional Maya Wedding at Santa Rita”

  1. nena beeke says:

    How beautiful. Learning from the past creates a better future. Good luck to the marital couple, I am sure the Mayan Spirits will look favourably on them….

  2. Belizean Pride says:

    apart from being a special event for the couple it should have been televised live as part of a show for the cultural purpose. while the tv company could have payed the rights and help the couple with the bills. But the main idea was is to have it shown that further weddings can be made with due appropriate legal permits and whilst keeping the culture alive from our ancestor. wouldn’t that be great for us the Belizeans to watch and for our culture, as for tourism attraction also?

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