PAPALOTLA, Mexico – The carnival in the small community of Papalotla, in the central Mexican state of Tlaxcala, started on Sunday with its streets full of hats adorned with long and colorful feathers, elegant costumes and meticulously hand-carved masks.
The Atltepeilhuitl Cultural Festival, celebrated on Sunday, marks the beginning of the carnival, which lasts a month in this town, and does so by fusing it with pre-Hispanic traditions.
The music and dances of the carnival are preceded by a pre-Columbian ritual in which the dancers thank and ask the god of water, Tlaloc, to provide rain for their crops, with performers from seven different states across Mexico this year, each one with its unique costume.
With the aim of preserving the richness of their pre-Hispanic identity and carnivals, the cultural association Atltepeilhuitl has been holding this festival for 13 years and managed to gather thousands of spectators each year to the community of Papalotla, located 126 km from Mexico City.
Together with the unusual hand-carved wooden masks, the typical costume of Papalotla carnival is that of a “Charro,” or Mexican Cowboy, and represents Mother Nature.
Embroidered with roses, the cloak represents the fertility of the earth, the feathers of the hat embody the clouds and the beads and sequins symbolize raindrops and water springs.
“Our ancestors performed this ritual before the Spaniards’ arrival to ask for water and the fertility of the crops. With the arrival of the Spaniards this festivity was abolished. They prohibited it,” Primitivo Morales, a high school teacher in the community of Papalotla, told EFE.
However, over the years the local Catholic Church rescued this ritual and incorporated it into the celebrations of the carnival.