Saturday, November 27

Guatemalans celebrate San Simón; They ask for protection before leaving for the US

With music, tobacco and liquor, hundreds of faithful celebrated this Thursday in the indigenous town of San Andrés Itzapa to San Simón, a popular deity in Guatemala entrusted to migrants going to the United States and thousands of residents and visitors seeking favors and protection.

The devotees of San Simón lined up in long lines to enter the temple erected in this indigenous Kaqchikel municipality, some 55 km west of Guatemala City. They ask him for work and protection in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Now the biggest request is [por] the job. Do not miss work and especially for health. Now we are asking him to protect us from the pandemic, “said Edwin Galindo, a spiritual guide who claimed to be celebrating 25 years of devotion to the saint.

The cult of San Simón is the result of the religious syncretism between Christian and indigenous customs, but it is not recognized by the Catholic Church.

Every October 28, the faithful commemorate the day of San Simón or “Monchito”, who, sitting on a wooden chair surrounded by money, bottles of beer and liquor, wears an expressionless Western face with a thick mustache, dressed in a suit dark and the head covered with a black hat.

Attendance is higher than last year, when the faithful arrived by droppers due to the restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus that has left almost 15,000 deaths in Guatemala -for good and bad-.

At the pilgrimage site, which is also visited by Central Americans and Mexicans, spiritual guides performed “cleanings” with tobacco, flowers and brandy, while music sounded from strident horns that were mixed with mariachi songs that offered their services to the faithful.

“We have the [canciones] Rancheras, we have what are the corridos and ‘quebraditas’, since on this side they like very much the lively music to be able to dance, to be able to celebrate and to have a great time and very beautiful, “added Daniel Tiu, dressed in a black suit with golden thread embroidery.

Mariachis perform and sing during the day Guatemalans commemorate San Judas Tadeo and the pagan saint San Simón. AFP / J. Ordonez

The devotees of San Simón affirm that the saint does not discriminate and comply, either for “good and bad”, so that in front of his altar migrants who will undertake the dangerous journey without documents to the United States, as well as gang members and drug traffickers.

Andrea López, a devotee who covered her face with a mask, indicated that Saint Simon “has always helped her.”

“Here I am with him always every year and I always enjoy his party (…). Too many miracles he has done to me. He who truly believes looks and he who does not, does not see it, but at least he has done to me. many miracles, “commented the red-haired woman.

Another follower, Ingrid, a 30-year-old woman, danced and sang the song “Amor eterno” by Mexican singer Juan Gabriel, while holding a beer.

“San Simón has done me many favors, he has helped me in my life and financially, every year I celebrate it,” he said.

On the walls of the temple there are plaques and photos that the devotees who benefited from the saint’s favor leave in gratitude for the businesses they managed to build, for the trips to the United States that were successfully completed by migrants, and even for the purchase of vehicles or conquests. loving.

San Simón is represented in figures as a middle-aged indigenous man, elegantly dressed in a black suit, tie and a hat. Cigars and dark glasses are also usually placed in his mouth.

His followers smoke cigars before him or ask to be “stripped” and “protected” in an alcohol spray ceremony performed by a temple priest or shaman.

The symbolism of San Simón borders between good and evil, between religiosity and vices, and the festivities in his honor, which last until November 1, when All Saints’ Day is celebrated in the Central American country.

With information from AFP and EFE

Followers of the pagan saint also celebrate with dances, tobacco, and liquor and beer. AFP / J. Ordonez

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