July 12 2002

Oaxacan Culture Celebrated at Third Cal State San Marcos Guelaguetza

The culture and traditions of Oaxaca, Mexico, will be celebrated during the third-annual California State University San Marcos Guelaguetza, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sun., July 21, on the campus’s lower field (corner of S. Twin Oaks Valley Road and Craven Road).

This family event is modeled after the yearly festival held in Oaxaca City, during which members of many of the region’s 23 indigenous groups share their distinctive music, dance, dress, and food. A Zapotec word signifying offering or offertory, Guelaguetza traditionally was a ceremony and celebration held each year in Oaxaca to pacify the gods in return for sufficient rain and a bountiful harvest.

The event is being hosted by the university and sponsored by the Coalition of Indigenous Communities of Oaxacan (COCIO) in collaboration with Cal State San Marcos Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA). COCIO is a grassroots cultural organization in North County made up of Mixtec, Zapotec, Chinantee, Mixe, and other indigenous Oaxacan members. California is home to more than 60,000 Mixtec-speaking people, with 15,000 to 20,000 residing in San Diego County. Last year’s celebration attracted more than 3,000 people, many from the local Oaxacan community who came to celebrate the culture of their homeland.

The celebration will include a blessing of the festival site, a parade featuring the different Oaxacan dance groups and musicians, a formal recognition of invited dignitaries, and music and dance performances throughout the day. Traditional foods, such as corn and mole, and arts and crafts will be available for purchase. In addition, booths will be set up by local agencies, including Migrant Education, North County Health Services, and the fire department, to provide information and demonstration of their services.

The Guelaguetza at Cal State San Marcos is open to everyone, and a $5 donation is requested per person. All funds will go toward community building projects in Oaxaca. Children under 10 may attend for free.

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