Huay e kol /land clearing

 

H uay e kol

Is the name that is used for a land cleansing ceremony and or for calling in Chac the rain god to  bring forth rain and for a good harvest.

The shaman who performs the ceremony dictates how many turkeys have to be killed and plucked and other foods that he may want at the ceremony.

shaman Don Estaban and his altar

He sets up his alter in a place that is suitable for him, placing candles, flowers etc that he feels is adequate for his means. Usually there is incense  of copal too . He cleanses his alter with a mixture of herbs and smoke. The herbs consist of Arruda  and Basil creating a wonderful aroma.

 

Tasting the Balche

 

 The traditional drink of Balche made from honey is prepared and people are asked to partake of the drink.

Many of the village people come out to partake in preparing the foods one being a kind of pibe made from large corn tortilla, ten stacked on top of the other and  to which the grounded seeds of calabaza (squash) is added  between the layers. They are then wrapped in banana leaves tied up in bundles ready for the in ground pit.

 

preparing the pibesGrinding the achiote

 

 

The pit is dug by the men ready for the food. The stones are heated using  cut wood and when the heat is up the pibes are placed on top with a layer of Oak leaves and the final coat of earth. All the time this is going on the shaman makes his blessings on the food. It is then left to bake for a couple of hours or so.

 

The pit with the heated stones

 

 

 

 

Blessing the foodCovering the pibes

 

 

In the meantime the turkeys are   cleaned and placed in large cauldrons on open fires to which is added ground chilies other condiments as well as the ground achiote to give it colour and flavour. MMMmmm witches brew!!!!

The shaman continues his prayers calling in the keepers of the land and asking that they provide rich soil and rain to bring in a good harvest and for protection against evil doings. While the shaman is doing his thing one of the main requests is that the women are not allowed to pass in front of the altar. Im sure this would mean a bad omen of some kind.

All the helpers seem to know there place and what is to be done but all the time laughing and joking together and having fun.

When at last the pibes are ready to be unearthed an air of excitement is in the wind and from out of nowhere come hoards of people as if they know the time the food would be ready, to partake. The pibes are well cooked being hard and slightly burnt on the edges. But all this adds to the flavour of the food.

The ceremony that I was privileged to be invited to happened a few years ago and to me what was remarkable was the fact that as soon as the food was out of the pit down came the rains and hard. We all ran under cover where there was lots of laughter and joking taking place. As soon as the rains cleared out we went to eat.

These ceremonies are done often in the small villages around Yucatán each I am sure having their own flavour and style. This is a part of the Maya culture that is still alive today and hopefully it will continue for many more