Wednesday, December 12, 2007

La Purisima

Part of Ethnography is to take a look at various cultures and their rituals, everyday occurrences. Religion is a big aspect to regard when studying people. With Yanonmami it was the trance-like spiritual cleansing that involved physical regurgitation. In Nicaragua, from late November to early January people participate in La Purisima, the Immaculate Conception of a the Virgin Mary.

The following components are necessary for a successful celebration:
A statuette of the Virgin Mary that must be on loan and blessed from a near by church
Rented chairs
Nicaraguan candy
Nicaraguan toys (carved whistles, trinkets and the like)
Chicha (pink sweet corn juice)
Nacatamales (a larger version of tamales)
Program of songs to be sang to the Virgin

There are three different methods to celebrate this
1) Hosted by the church
2) At one on a specific date
3) Traveling to houses (In a Halloween fashion)

I make the Halloween comparison because people will go from house to house and in order to receive food or drink (coffee) they must pray one mystery of the Rosary and sing to the Virgin. From the movies gathered below, most of them are from Nicaragua.

Here in the United States there are still Purisimas held by those that immigrated during the Sanidinista era in Los Angeles and Miami (those are the most well-known).

In the U.S., it is much more of a recollecting of Nicaraguan patriotism. I have never been to a purisima in Nicaragua. But when in purisima, here in the states, there is a chant that the gatherers will always say

Quien causa tanta alegria? La concepcion de Maria!
Que viva Nicaragua! Que Viva!

Which basically translates to : Who is the cause of all this happiness? The Virgin Mary.

It is this pride that people carry with them when they go these purisimas. Very often people will begin to talk about their pasts in Nicaragua, whether or not they still go back after having been away due to the Sandinista occupation. Most if not all Nicaraguan-American children that grow up here, know what it is to have to sit for hours, while their parents tell the stories of their childhood.

Women stay inside to gossip, while the men are outside drinking.

I used to see it as something very boring until I received the gifts to which I was later disappointed by in the evening, as the presents were fruits. But it soon became tradition. The giving of fruits is tradition, as is the tradition that you will not receive a drop of food unless you sing.

Below are clips of purisimas in Nicaragua:

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