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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkNews from Around Banderas Bay | March 2005 

The Voladores of Papantla
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The famous Voladores of Papantla will once again be performing their symbolic ritual of "flight" near the seahorse on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta.

Puerto Vallarta - The famous Voladores of Papantla will once again be performing their symbolic ritual of "flight" near the seahorse on the Malecón March 18-20th at 6:00, 8:00 and 9:30 p.m. This fantastic folkloric show features Indians from the Papantla region dressed in brilliantly colored traditional costumes and performing riveting aerial dances.

You won't believe your eyes as voladores climb to the top of a tall pole, wind ropes around the pole, and then leap off into the air! As the ropes unwind, they descend slowly to the ground while the caporal plays a drum and flute - invoking an ancient spiritual offering in the form of a spectacular aerial dance. And, at a designated point in the performance, the flyers launch themselves head first toward the ground, spinning and descending toward the ground.

Information about the original ritual was partially lost when the invading conquerors from Spain destroyed so many of the documents and codices of the indigenous cultures. Fortunately, enough survived through legend and oral history and in materials written by early visitors to New Spain, that anthropologists and historians have been able to document at least part of the story of this ancient religious practice and how it has evolved through time.

A Totonaca myth tells of a time when there was a great drought, and food and water grew scarce throughout the land. Five young men decided that they must send a message to Xipe Totec, God of fertility so that the rains would return and nurture the soil, and their crops would again flourish. So they went into the forest and searched for the tallest, straightest tree they could find.

When they came upon the perfect tree, they stayed with it overnight, fasting and praying for the tree's spirit to help them in their quest. The next day they blessed the tree, then felled it and carried it back to their village, never allowing it to touch the ground. Only when they decided upon the perfect location for their ritual, did they set the tree down.

The men then stripped the tree of its leaves and branches, dug a hole to stand it upright, then blessed the site with ritual offerings. The men adorned their bodies with feathers so that they would appear like birds to Xipe Totec, in hope of attracting the god's attention to their important request. With vines wrapped around their waists, they secured themselves to the pole and made their plea through their flight and the haunting sound of the flute and drum.

Today, this traditional act of worship is most often performed as entertainment for tourists in Mexico and at presentations all over the world. Puerto Vallarta is fortunate to play host to the Voladores of Papantla, native Totonac Indians who re-enact this ancient and death-defying ritual.

Don't miss your chance to see the Voladores of Papantla in Puerto Vallarta on March 18-20th. You'll be dazzled by their dangerous and breathtaking feats, while experiencing an unforgettable taste of pre-Hispanic Mexican culture. The Voladores of Papantla also perform on a regularly scheduled basis at Las Iguanas Festival Specialty Center in Marina Vallarta.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
the included information for research and educational purposes • m3 © 2008 BanderasNews ® all rights reserved • carpe aestus