Pharisees - A Sonoran tradition - Rocky Point 360

By MoKa Hammeken

"Is it that time of year already?" This is what a friend exclaimed when she could hear the sound of drums and rattles, and perceive two men adorning masks in the distance. Definitely, time flies and the Pharisees, traditional figures from the Sonoran panorama, year after year come back promptly at the time of Lent.

Who are these men and why do they do this? These are the well-known Pharisees or "Chapayecas" (meaning long-nosed in Yaqui), representative of a custom from the Yaqui tribe of Sonora. It is a tradition full of symbols and representation that dates back to the colonial era, from around the 17th century and the Jesuits. They are called Pharisees (Pharisees) in Pharisees, and in Pharisees in Pharisees, Pharisees in Pharisees, and Pharisees in Pharisees. (a sacrifice offered to God for a special request). This is not the case, however, because it is not the only one that can be found in the Bible. They suffer and expunge their sins. Pharisees make their own masks, which they wear for forty days as they go through villages. The Pharisees signify commitment, discipline, and are always accompanied by the "body," who is similar to a godparent who cares for them and assures they do not fall for temptation. This role is for three years, but can be extended for life.

There are those who assure that when Pharisees ask for money this does not have much to do with raising funds, affirming they are very spiritual people; rather, begging is to represent the roles of evil and frugality.

It is not until Black Saturday when the dress and masks worn throughout are removed and burned in a fire. Then, flowers that represent Black Saturday are thrown upon the burning masks, symbolizing the sinner's re-encounter with God.

This is a broad picture of the Pharisees, which may vary depending on the region; there are small details that differentiate between each Yaqui group as it is very important to define roots and territories. So, once this period is gone, silence returns to the streets and it will not be until next year when these mysterious men reappear, and the drum and the rattle remind us of their shocking masks, theirs and ours.

p> By MoKa Hammeken "Is it that time of the year already?" This is what a friend said when she heard the sound of drums and rattles and saw two men in masks in the distance. Definitely, time flies and these characters typical of the Sonoran panorama, year by year, respawn on time, with Lent.

However the question of many also returns. Who are these men and why do they? They are called Pharisees or "Chapayecas" ("long nose" in Yaqui language) and this is a custom of the Yaqui tribe of Sonora. It is a tradition full of symbols and representations dating back to the colonial period, around the seventeenth century, where the Jesuits, to teach Catholic doctrine to different peoples, used theatrical representations, which, over time fused with their beliefs, resulting in a colorful way of interpreting and embodying these dates.

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They have a meaning of commitment, discipline and are always accompanied by a "corporal" who acts as a sponsor who watches over them and does not fall into temptations. This order is made for three years, but can be extended for life. In the festivities of Holy Week, young men and adults participate in special dressing and covering their faces with masks made in the locality with leathers of cow, goat and deer, so as not to be recognized. They are forbidden to speak and to communicate they use signs. Under the mask it is said that nl the mouth have the cross of the rosary that they have hanging around the neck, in order to avoid speaking as well as to prevent sin from entering into temptation.

begging does not have much to do with raising money since they claim that they are people of very detached spirit if not rather it is the issue of playing the role of evil and miser. It is said that whenever the Yaqui man is going to put on the mask he must lie on the floor and from there place it on his head, pretending that he is dead and now lives in the character of the mask.

until the Sabbath of Glory, a day of rejoicing, when they stripped themselves of the garments and masks they carried during Lent and, by way of sins and offenses, burned in a bonfire. Then they throw flowers symbolizing the Sabbath of glory and the reunion of the sinner with God. This is roughly, as it can vary some things depending on the region from which they come; small details that make each Yaqui group different from another, very important when defining roots and territories.

Then after this time, silence returns to the streets and will not be until next year , when these mysterious men reappear, and the drum and the rattle remind us of the striking masks; yours and ours.

  • Adam Floyd