By Pável Uliánov
The ceremony for the renewal of the New Fire and the beginning of the P’urhépecha New Year, currently called Kurhíkuaeri K’uínchekua, is a celebration of the rebirth of the P’urhépecha culture.
It maintains at least three central principles: the interference of political parties is not allowed, nor the participation of Western religions or the intervention of governmental or private institutions. It is an original, autonomous and historical celebration of the P’urhépecha people that takes place every first of February.
The Kurhíkuaeri K’uínchekua celebration is a historical construction of the P’urhépecha people, a movement that fights for the recovery of the P’urhé roots in the political, economic, social, educational, cultural and spiritual spheres, an element that generates pride and identity against the mestizo world, an organization that seeks indigenous cultural autonomy, a means for the rescue and strengthening of the P’urhépecha language, a system that criticizes and self-criticizes the Catholic religion and political parties, a symbol of resistance and, above all, is a path to construction of its own historical development.
The project and the preparations for the celebration of today’s Kurhíkuaeri K’uínchekua date back to the years 1979-1982, when ten students of the Ethnolinguistic Professional Training Program, at the Regional Cooperation Center for Adult Education in Latin America and the Caribe (CREFAL), studied the historical, spiritual and symbolic foundations of the pre-Hispanic society of Michoacán, with the aim of generating an investigation that promoted the feeling of unity among the P’urhépecha of the different regions and communities, among the students were : Dámaso Calderón, Isidro Manzo, María de la Luz Valentines, Valente Soto, Sinforoso Elías, Pedro Márquez Joaquín, Néstor Dimas Huacuz, Benigno Ramírez, Juan Cornelio and Jorge Antonio Joaquín, the Academic Coordinator of the program was the anthropologist and ecclesiastical Agustín García Alcaraz and the General Administrator, the teacher Cecilia Valdovinos Soriano, the muralist José Luis Soto González, f acted as permanent advisor. (Source: Interview with Cecilia Valdovinos Soriano 28 / Jan / 2016).
In accordance with this, the celebration of the Kurhíkuaeri K’uínchekua was held for the first time in 1983, in the Yácatas of Tzintzúntzan, with a group of approximately 50 people, in order to strengthen the P’urhépecha culture and create a feeling of belonging, as well as promoting the idea of fighting against the commercialization and / or folklore of indigenous culture. At the beginning, there was no complete vision of what was to be achieved, nor the magnitude that it would take, however, gradually, with the participation of community leaders, academics, communicators and, above all, entire communities, it has established itself as one of the most important contemporary celebrations of the P’urhépecha people. (Lorena Ojeda / A Mexican ethnic group facing its intangible cultural heritage, the case of the P’urhépecha of Michoacán).
The historical context of the emergence of this tradition among the P’urhépecha is, in general, dominated by the struggle for the rights of peasants and indigenous people during the decade of 1970-1980, with social movements of the original peoples in the states of San Luis Potosí, Jalisco, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Michoacán, Hidalgo and Puebla (Blanca Rubio / Peasant Resistance and Rural Exploitation in Mexico) and, in particular, is closely linked to the struggle for communal land and the collective work of Santa Fe de la Laguna in 1979. Similarly, a detailed analysis of the 38 canvases and posters that represent the symbols and sites of the Kurhíkuaeri K’uínchekua indicates the greatness of history, resistance, struggle and worldview of the P’urhépecha people. (José Luis Soto / Art and symbols of the P’urhépecha New Year).
The historical foregoing of the celebration go back to the pre-Hispanic past, to the Equata Cónsquaro celebration, “which means arrows”, where general justice was done by the Petámuti (historian, senior priest and administrator of justice) at women and men who had violated the P’urhépecha justice system, among others, those who had stopped bringing wood for the sacred fire, spies, deserting warriors, doctors who had done their work badly, infidels, vagabonds and the unproductive. (Jerónimo de Alcalá / Relationship of Michoacán).
It is understood that, we are children of Kurhíkuaeri, we are children of the sun, but also, we belong to nature itself, we are one more entity on earth. All human beings are the same, nobody is more or less: Earth is the body, because I feed on the fruits that mother earth bears. Water is my blood, which my heart receives and sends throughout the body. Air is my breath, because I breathe it every day from the moment I was born until the day I die and Fire is my spirit, because I have life and joy, I think and reason, I have strength and courage to shout. (Pedro Marquez / ¿Ambé jindeski Kurhíkuaeri K’uínchekua? What is Kurhíkuaeri K’uínchekua, the great party to Kurikaveri?).
The main symbols of the celebration of the K’urhikuaeri K’uinchekua are Kurhíkua (Fire), Mindaskuarheta (Miss Calendar), Anásïkukua (Flag) and Ts´iríkuarheta (Spear-Staff), elements that have progressively been incorporated as the celebration evolves (T’erunchi Tamapu Council of Kurhikuaeri K’uinchekua).
In the same way, the present ceremony gives continuity to the conception of the world and of time that the ancient P’urhépecha maintained. Analogously to other Mesoamerican peoples, the p’urhé had ancestral time measurement systems, at least four pre-Hispanic p’urhépecha calendars existed:
A) Solar Calendar, which was 18 months, each one made up of 20 days, to whose total account 5 unfortunate or fatal days were added.
B) the Lunar Agricultural Calendar, divided into 9 series of scores, being composed of the Venus cycle with the first 13 solar months.
C) Astronomical Calendar, determined by celestial movements.
D) Ritual Calendar, which was developed in the 18 months of the solar calendar with primary days of ritual celebration, a total of 18 ceremonial festivals were celebrated. (Pablo Alarcón / Ethnology of the P’urhépecha Indians).
The current K’urhíkuaeri K’uínchekua ceremony is performed with solemnity and respect, it is forbidden to drink alcoholic beverages, consume any type of drugs and disturb public order. Likewise, the interference of political or religious matters outside the P’urhépecha community is not allowed. Public presentation of federal, state, municipal or church officials is not tolerated. (Information bulletin on provisions regarding the celebration of the New Year P’urhépecha / Arantepacua / 2016).
In summary, Kurhíkuaeri K’uínchekua is a movement that seeks P’ískuntani to unearth the past, Tanhaxutani to support the development of knowledge and practices, Uinhaskuntani to strengthen our roots, Mimixeni to know the past, to understand the present to sow the future (Kurhíkuaeri Council Manifesto K’uínchekua, no to the interference of the Catholic Church, political parties and public and private institutions / 2019).
Finally, Kurhíkuaeri K’uínchekua, like every historical social and cultural movement, maintains various internal contradictions that do not allow it to maintain organic and / or action unity, however, these must be settled internally in the General Assembly of Freighters and Excargueros Kurhíkuaeri K’uínchekua which is the highest authority of the celebration.
Calendar for the celebration of Kurhíkuaeri K’uínchekua:
1.- Tzintzuntzan (1983). 2.- Ihuatzio (1984). 3.- Nurío (1985). 4.- San Andrés Tziróndaro (1986). 5.- Angahuan (1987). 6.- Pichátaro (1988). 7.- Tacuro (1989).8.- Santa Fé de la Laguna (1990). 9.- Cheranástico (1991). 10.- Ichúpio (1992). 11.- Cocucho (1993). 12.-Ucasánastacua (1994). 13.- Tarecuato (1995). 14.- Puácuaro (1996). 15.- Sevina (1997). 16.-Janitzio (1998). 17.- San Lorenzo Narhéni (1999). 18.- Tiríndaro (2000). 19.- Cherán (2001). 20.- Carapan (2002). 21.- San Juan Nuevo Parangaricutiro (2003). 22.- Pátzcuaro (2004). 23.- Caltzontzin (2005). 24.- Patamban (2006). 25.- Santo Tomás (2007). 26.- San Jerónimo P’urhénchecuaro (2008). 27.- Chilchota (2009). 28.- Uruapan (2010). 29.- Jarácuaro (2011). 30.- Conguripo (2012). 31.- Nahuátzen (2013). 32.- Tarejero (2014). 33.- Urícho (2015). 34.- Arantepacua (2016) y 35.- Huáncito (2017) y 36.-Naranja de Tapia (2018). 37 .- Cuanajo (2019). 38 .- Capácuaro (2020). 39 .- Comanja (2021).
Pável Ulíánov Guzmán