Sacred Mayan Journey 2012: Celebrating a New Beginning

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Close to 300 oarsmen in 28 canoes crossed from Xcaret to Cozumel island. 3 different ceremonies were held in Xcaret, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. This year’s main theme was the year 2012 and the Mayan New Era.

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Sacred Mayan Journey 2012

Xcaret, Mexico– Close to 300 oarsmen in 28 canoes crossed the Mexican Caribbean in the recreation of an ancient Mayan tradition, a yearly pilgrimage to Cozumel island to worship the goddess Ixchel.

For the sixth year in a row, men and women from Mexico, and some from foreign countries, have come together for the Sacred Mayan Journey, to participate in the representation of a ritual from the Late Post-classic period. The oarsmen row 17 miles from Xcaret Park, 40 minutes from Cancun, to Cozumel Island. This year, the theme of the Sacred Mayan Journey was of special significance for the Maya -2012- the year that an era ends and a new cycle begins. The event is organized by Xcaret Park, located in the Riviera Maya.

The oarsmen train for 6 months before crossing from the ancient village of Ppolé, (Today’s Xcaret) to Cuzamil, (present day Cozumel). These pilgrimages were a common occurrence in the east coast of Yucatan (Quintana Roo). The Maya embarked on these journeys for trade and religious reasons. The activities took place in three different locations: Xcaret, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen on the 17th, 18th and 19th of May.

There were several activities held during the event, starting with the recreation of a Mayan marketplace where bartering took place. Visitors could purchase different products such as textiles, crafts, seeds, herbs and food by exchanging their pesos for cacao seeds (which were used as a coin by the Maya). During this marketplace representation, visitors were able to recreate trade activities in a truly authentic Mayan ambiance. The night came to an end with a welcome ceremony where oarsmen, artists and volunteers all came together to show Mayan traditions with dances that represented a new cycle in the Mayan calendar.

The next day, on May 18th, as the first rays of the sun appeared after some heavy rain and after a blessing ceremony surrounded by friends, family and the community took place, the oarsmen, dressed in traditional Mayan attire, began their journey toward Cozumel guided by a dolphin. After 5 hours of non-stop rowing, they arrived to the island where they were welcomed with dances and an atmosphere of joy. Later on that night, at the Chankanaab National Park, there was a ceremony of the New Fire, performed by shamans from different regions of Mexico, symbolizing renewal and purification.

On the last day, the oarsmen left Cozumel Island at 6:00 a.m. to travel toward Xamanhá, (present day Playa del Carmen) and were welcomed there by international press, family and friends. During their welcome ceremony, there were dances representing fertility and abundance. The closing ceremony included a word of thanks by Xcaret Park Director Francisco Marrón Mejía.

This event marks the beginning of a series of activities that will be taking place throughout the Experiencias Xcaret Parks up until December 21st 2012, in order to celebrate the start of a New Era in the Mayan Calendar.

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Iliana Rodriguez
Experiencias Xcaret
01 52 998 881 9700 5141
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