The Events

THE EASTER CEREMONY is initiated each year at a public meeting called by the Fariseos and the Caballeros shortly before Ash Wednesday. At this time plans are discussed and assignments made.

In accordance with Christian tradition, the Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday when a short service, conducted by the Maestros, is held in the church.


Each Friday afternoon in Lent the members of the church group, carrying the holy figures, go forth from the church and stop at each station for the appropriate prayers. On their return to the church a closing service is conducted, in the Yaqui tradition. Simultaneously with this ritual, the men's church group, carrying crucifixes, represents Jesus and His followers traveling from place to place. The Women's group, with the three figures of the Virgin, known as The Three Marys, enacts the part of Mary searching for her Son. The Fariseos and Caballeros first follow and, later in Lent, accompany the church group in a relentless pursuit of Jesus, to whom they draw closer on each succeeding Friday.

First Friday

During the afternoon of the first Friday in Lent, the members of the church group prepare the altar and place on it the holy figures. Included are large crucifixes and at least one of the two small ones that belong to the Fariseo society. The Three Marys are present, fastened on carrying-litters, and there may be small images of the Virgin. The Virgin of Guadalupe is represented by a little figure in an open-faced box decorated with flowers. When the altar is arranged, a Caballero corporal imbeds two silvered lances, crossed in front of the altar to represent a gate to "keep Jesus a prisoner." The "gate" is always thus "closed" when services are not in progress. The Fariseos and Caballeros gather in their barracks, which no one else may enter unless invited.

Summoned by the big church bell, the people of the village arrive toward evening. Each turns to make the sign of the cross at the church cross, which stands about fifty feet in front of the church, then goes to the altar to venerate the holy figures. As preparations near completion, the altar women place head-coverings and crowns on the girl flag bearers and hand them their flags and bells. They also place crowns on the heads of the twelve women who will carry the litters of The Three Marys. The Maestro and sacristan give the crucifixes to the men and boys to carry. A piece of canvas is placed in front of the altar to receive the greens, flowers, and confetti brought by the women of the village. This flower carpet is to honor the holy figures, and reminds the Fariseos that in the end they will be "killed" by flowers.

The Maestro kneels on the flower carpet to repeat the two opening prayers of the Catholic ritual for the Stations of the Cross. The girl flag bearers wave their flags in front of the altar for a blessing. The Maestro and women singers start singing in Spanish the hymn "Jesus So Afflicted," and the men's group leaves the church. The order is as follows:

Two small boys with the flower carpet run ahead and lay it
  in front of the first station
The large gray cross, called the Way cross, carried by a man,
  accompanied by men to relieve him
Men and boys with the crucifixes
Maestro and singers singing the hymn
People of the village

They stop at each station, where the Maestro repeats the appropriate prayers, then go on as before, singing a verse of the hymn between stations. At the eleventh station, Calvary, which is marked by three crosses, the Way cross is laid on the ground during special hymns and prayers. It is then removed, and the prayers for the station are recited.

When the men's group reaches the second station, the women's group starts. The Maestro and singers who accompany them sing the Stabat Mater as they leave the church. The order is:

Girl flag bearers
The Three Marys, each borne by four women
Altar women escorting the figures
Maestro and singers singing the Stabat Mater
People of the village
They stop at each station, kneel for prayers, then go on as before.

Meanwhile a Chapayeka disappears under the altar with his ceremonial paraphernalia in a gunnysack. After prayers that the work of Lent may be blessed, he dons his regalia. When the women's group is at the fifth station, flute and drum are heard as the Fariseos and Caballeros march from their barracks. As they circle the church cross three times, flags are waved, then all line up in front of the church. The Chapayeka appears from under the altar. He represents Judas and leads the search for Jesus. He peers about the church, explores with his sword, makes motions of measuring footsteps and, still searching, goes to the church cross and back three times. When he emerges from the church the third time, he turns his back in the Chapayeka manner as one of the officers asks him if "that Man whom we seek" is inside. In pantomime the Chapayeka replies that He is not there now, that He has left, but that he has found His trail. Jesus is never mentioned by name until Thursday night in Holy Week at the Betrayal. The captain gives a command, and the Fariseos and Caballeros proceed around the Way of the Cross to look for Jesus.

As the sun warms and reddens the mountains to the north and east before dropping behind the dark mountains to the west, night falls quickly, and the stars are bright and close. Candles are distributed to the church groups. Their flames pick out the bright colors in the regalia and illumine the ring of serious faces around the crosses.

At each station the search by the Chapayeka continues. At the twelfth station he rushes past the church group and lies down in front of the church "to spy." The Fariseos and Caballeros hurry after him and line up in front of the church, where they stand in formation until the closing services are finished.

As they leave the fourteenth station, the Maestro and singers with the men's group start to sing "Beloved Jesus." They finish singing inside the church. The women's group enters singing "Hail, Mother, Full of Pain," which finishes simultaneously with the other hymn. The Chapayeka jumps and shakes his hip rattles at the end of each verse of the hymns. He beats time derisively, hitting Ms sword with his dagger, and keeps time with his feet. He may peer into the church, but he is not aggressive on this first Friday. The flutist and drummer play at intervals during the hymns, but are silent during the prayers that follow. When those inside cross themselves, the Fariseos and Cabelleros touch their hats and flags are waved. The Chapayeka may still look impudently into the church, but at the sound of holy words he shivers and staggers in fright.

After the prayers are finished, the ceremony of group veneration takes place, the purpose of which is to bless themselves at the altar. Leaving their hats outside, because they now enter the church as individuals, the Fariseo and Caballero flag bearers advance to the altar and wave in the four directions to bless the ground, then kneel with the girl flag bearers to the right of the altar. While Maestros and singers sing the appropriate hymn for each group, all go to the altar in pairs, one pair at a time, to venerate. As they kneel, the flag bearers touch the forehead of each with the cross on the tip of the flag for a blessing, and draw the flag over the face. When all have finished, including the people of the village, the men flag bearers wave in the four directions and go back to their places in line.

The head Maestro gives a sermon in Yaqui in which he explains the events of Lent, touches on the work of each group, and speaks of Yaqui ideals and Christian doctrine. After announcements of coming events, the girl flag bearers wave their flags to end the services and all disperse.

Second Friday

The procedure is the same as for the first Friday, except that two Chapayekas appear. They march to the church with the other Fariseos, then go through the pantomime of searching for Jesus.

Third Friday

The form of the procession is the same, except that there is a change at Calvary, the eleventh station. Here the women's group briefly joins the men's. This represents a short meeting of Mary and her Son. When the men's group leaves, the Fariseos and Caballeros march around the station looking for Jesus. The Chapayekas creep up and listen to the Maestros. The evil ones are now closer to Jesus, since they have overtaken His mother.

Fourth Friday

In this procession, when the men's group arrives at the second station the Fariseos and Caballeros march to the church and flank the women's group as it emerges. They proceed together around the Way of the Cross. At the fourth station they catch up with the men's group, and the Fariseos and Caballeros quickly circle the station and stand at either side during the prayers. This is interpreted as a meeting of Mary and Jesus, and from this point on her group will travel with His, following just behind it. This meeting also symbolizes the overtaking of Jesus and Mary by the Fariseos and Caballeros. All continue as one procession.

Fifth Friday

Green boughs have been fastened to the posts of the church. A figure of Jesus called the Nazarene and wearing a red tunic is now carried in processions instead of the crucifixes. From now on all groups start together as one procession. After the first station the head Pilate, with two Chapayekas as bodyguards, walks in front of the procession. The Chapayekas are bolder in their pantomime of disrespect to the Maestros. They creep up to listen to the Maestros and tease them in an effort distract them. The Chapayekas scrape themselves off to get rid of contamination with holy things, when they return to their fellows to report what they have seen and heard. The form of the procession is as follows:

Boys with
flower carpet
Men with Way cross
Caballeros   Fariseos     Boy Angels    Fariseos   Caballeros

Figure of Nazarene
Men and boys with
other holy figures
Maestro and singers
Girl flag bearers
Girl angels
The Three Marys
Altar women
Maestro and singers
People of the village

Sixth Friday

The procedure is the same for the sixth Friday, except that the figures on the altar are covered with purple, and the flag girls and the women who carry The Three Marys wear lavender regalia which, until midnight of Good Friday, replaces the customary red.


On the Saturday before Palm Sunday the church, fiesta ramada, and the east entrance of the plaza are decorated with palm leaves. The Fariseos and Caballeros, with the Pilate carrying one of their crucifixes, in formation, visit each house in the village to solicit money and food for the fiesta. They also bring a blessing to each household.


The Fiesta - Saturday evening, crowds gather in the plaza for the typical Yaqui all-night fiesta. Two great mesquite fires scent the air, and smells of coffee, stew, and tortillas emanate from the community kitchen. The colorful regalia of the Matachinis-painted gourd rattles, feathered wands and headdresses with paper streamers-decorate the lintel of the church. These costumes of the soldiers of Mary are hung there to honor them. As they wait, the Matachin musicians with their violins and guitars sit on a bench near the church and play gentle, wandering bits of airs from their dance music. The Maestro and singers of the women's group prepare to sing hymns in Spanish at intervals during their all-night vigil at the church.

The other focal point is the fiesta ramada. Here the Maestro and singers of the men's group set at the left near the altar and sing hymns in Spanish from time to time all night. The right side of the ramada is the province of the Pascolas and Deer Dancer. The sounds of dangling bells and cocoon rattles herald the entrance of the Pascolas as they are lead by their manager to the altar, then to the fiesta cross outside for their customary prayers. They return to the ramada, face the crowd, and cry out the familiar Yaqui greeting, Dios em chaniabu, "God aid you." The men crowding around the entrance reply, Dios em chiokoe, "God forgive you." The Pascolas, masks pushed back, dance each in turn, first to the music of the violin and harp. When they dance next to the flute and drum, played by one man, they slip their masks over their faces. Since they act as ritual hosts on behalf of the Fariseos and Caballeros, they give cigarettes and water to those who want them, banter with the crowd of men at the entrance, and entertain with jokes and stories, some traditional, some original, but all of them full of the absurdities, double talk, and punning characteristic of the Pascolas. Several Chapayekas gather at the entrance to mimic the dancers.

The deer singers start their opening song as the Deer Dancer is led by his manager to the altar and cross for prayers. He returns to the ramada, faces his singers, shakes his rattles vigorously, and dances. The deer singers sing:

Little fawn, little fawn
Now coming out
From the sunrise coming out
In the patio of the deer hunter
Plays in the rain water
Plays in the rain water

The Pascolas trespass on his area, and imitate him, but he frightens them away with his gourds or a shake of his hip rattles. He is a little fawn, who grows up during the night. After his first dance the Deer Dancer dances in conjunction with each Pascola to the simultaneous music of his singers and the flute and drum of the Pascolas. He then removes his headdress and stands quietly in front of his singers. In a short dramatization, the Pascolas discuss how to capture the Deer Dancer. Their first attempts are unsuccessful as he skillfully eludes them, but finally the Pascolas succeed. Throughout the night the Deer Dancer dances with them, but only to the music of flute and drum. He becomes increasingly playful during the night, though he does not speak or smile. As the Pascolas try to touch him or imitate his dancing, he fends them off or plays tricks on them.

When the Pascolas have opened the fiesta, the Matachinis cross themselves as they put on their regalia. At a sign from their manager, the musicians start a lively tune, the dance leader marks the rhythm for a few beats, then in a three-line formation they start to dance. Each dance lasts almost an hour, and with an hour or so in between, the dancers continue through the night.

The Fiesta Procession - About midnight all take part in a procession to escort the little holy figure called San Ramos, or Saint of the Branches, and the Nazarene from the church to the fiesta ramada. The Matachinis, followed by the Pascolas and the Deer Dancer, lead the procession in their customary procession dance to bless the ground. At the fiesta ramada, San Ramos and the Nazarene are placed on the altar. The Maestro and singers for the men's group, and the boy angels stay near the altar for the night. The Fariseos and Caballeros establish headquarters nearby, and place their ceremonial equipment on and around the fiesta cross. The Matachinis meanwhile lead the women's group, with The Three Marys, back to the church. The figures of the Virgin are placed on the church altar, and the women's group, girl angels, and the Matachinis remain there for the night.

The areas between the church cross and the church, and between the fiesta cross and the fiesta ramada are known as santo tebat or holy patio or ground. The light from the candles and lanterns is thought to imitate the santo tachiria or holy light sent down from heaven. Evil may lurk in the darkness outside.

Palm Sunday

At dawn the Pascolas and Deer Dancer go to the fiesta cross for prayers, and the Maestros conduct songs and prayers. This period is known as the alba or time of the dawn. While the Maestro in the fiesta ramada says the Litany, the Fariseos conduct a march known as the Letania Marsha. When they return, the Fariseos and Caballeros form a prayer circle together around the fiesta cross. The Matachinis salute the dawn with a dance. The Chapayekas line the path from the church to the fiesta ramada with fresh cottonwood twigs, which represent flowers, over which the procession will pass. This path should not be crossed by spectators. Palm leaves, blessed by the parish priest, are placed on a table east of the plaza.

Procession with the Palms - From the church the Matachinis lead the women's group with The Three Marys. They are met in front of the fiesta ramada by the Pascolas and the Deer Dancer, who lead the men's group with San Ramos and the Nazarene. All fall into line in the usual order, the Matachinis, Pascolas, and Deer Dancer leading with the procession dance. The table with the palm leaves is picked up, and all face the church and proceed toward it. As the church bell rings, the palm leaves are carried into the church. The Maestros follow the Catholic ritual for the day. Palm leaves are distributed to all, and people fashion them into small crosses. The Chapayekas rear and plunge about as the Fariseo corporals fasten strips of leaves under their belts.

Procession of Christ into Jerusalem - A second procession takes place at once. This time the route is around the plaza. All pause as they approach the church. A brown curtain has been drawn over the entrance. With a wooden cross, the head Maestro makes the sign of the cross in front of the curtain and the head Pilate taps the ground with his lance. The head Maestro chants a verse of the Gloria, laus and a woman singer behind the curtain responds. When each verse has been sung, the curtain is thrown back, the church bells ring, and the holy figures are taken into the church. After the usual closing services all disperse.


During the day on Wednesday of Holy Week, the Fariseos and Caballeros decorate the church with green boughs to represent the wild, rough country in which Jesus is thought to have wandered. This is done also in reference to a legend that Jesus and His soldiers were weary and, since He wanted them to rest that night, He formed an inaccessible forest of thistles and thorns about them. The holy figures are still draped in purple. In front of the altar stands a triangular candelabrum holding fifteen candles.

In the early evening the Maestros begin the Catholic service of Tenebrae, using a Latin missal. At the proper intervals a hand bell is rung and one candle extinguished.

Meanwhile the Fariseos and Caballeros march to the east entrance of the plaza, and the Fariseos stop, facing the church. The Caballeros, in their first gesture of separation from the Fariseos, continue toward the church and stand in line at the left of the entrance. Each time a candle is put out, the Fariseos advance three steps to the signals of flute and drum. Two Chapayekas, escorted by Fariseo corporals, advance to the front of the church to "spy." They lie down facing each other, extend their swords so that they cross, and each beats on his own sword with his dagger. They are reporting to those outside, who reply in kind. Each then crawls toward the altar, passes back of the Tenebrae candelabrum, and crawls out of the church. On the way they pause several times to beat their swords simultaneously and are answered by those outside. They shake their hip rattles as they rise, scrape themselves off, and run back to report to the Fariseo officers, sidling up to them backwards. Pair after pair crawls into the church until only a few of the candles are left burning. The episode represents an arduous search for Jesus in wooded, harsh country. The Chapayekas describe in pantomime the hardships they have encountered, but say they have found the trail of that Man whom they are seeking. As they wait in line, the constant, fluid motion of the Chapayekas resembles a dance, in which their sharp shadows dance too, on the ground, made almost white as snow by the moonlight.

When only three candles are left burning, the flutist, without the usual replies from the drummer, imitates the owl "to keep up the likeness to the forest."

About the time the thirteenth candle is extinguished, two Chapayekas, accompanied by a corporal, enter the church upright and crawl under the altar. They push back their masks and howl three times like animals. A Chapayeka lying by the church cross replies. The cries represent the "terror of the wild animals and birds during the increasing darkness." Going under the altar symbolizes "the penetration of evil ones to the very sanctuary of Christ."

Now all visitors are asked to leave the church, and the people draw back to make way for the ritual whipping. The fifteenth candle, which represents Jesus, "the Light of the World," is carried, still lighted, into the sacristy. The church is now in total darkness in contrast to the white light of the Easter moon streaming into the entrance. Maestros and singers sing the Misread. With a rush the Fariseos penetrate into the church. The officers kneel in front of the candelabrum The Chapayekas lie in diagonal rows behind them. The Fariseo corporals whip each Chapayeka three times with small thongs of leather or of rope, and then whip the officers. The Chapayekas, masks pushed up, howl and cry like animals and birds. The whipping continues within all ceremonial groups. Younger members of families approach their elders to be whipped. It is commonly understood that the whipping is in memory of the lashes received by Jesus, and also that the whipping among families and friends is to bless themselves and forgive each other. There is also a legend that the whipping is in memory of the Fariseos and Caballeros who fell to fighting as each wanted the other group to go further in the search for Jesus.

As the fifteenth candle, still lighted, is brought back from the sacristy, the whipping ends and the Fariseos move back out of the church. The candles in the small candelabra are again lighted, and the ceremony concludes with the usual services. The Chapayekas dance and boldly beat out time to the hymns, then creep up to listen to the prayers, making derisive gestures. Now they are more aggressive. But still, at the sound of holy names, they shiver and tremble.

The Caballero lances "close the gate" in front of the altar, which remains dressed until Easter afternoon. Meanwhile the members of the church group make themselves as comfortable as they can, each wrapped in a blanket at his usual post. Hot coals brought in by Chapayekas or corporals cool off all too quickly. The Fariseos and Caballeros sleep in the barracks or by the big mesquite fire outside.


Just before dawn, the Maestros and singers rouse themselves for the morning devotions, and the Fariseos and Caballeros march out for their morning prayers by the church cross. Mesquite smoke rises from the community kitchen. Soon all are busy in preparation for the events of the day.

On a pedestal in the center of the church altar stands a box covered with white cloth on which is fastened a flat red silk heart with links of green painted on it. Silver-colored rays spring out from the heart, and a red cross is above it. In this box the head altar woman has placed a crucifix, a bottle of holy water, a candle, and some flowers. This represents the heart of Jesus which is said to be a prisoner in the box. Late in the morning it is carried around the plaza in a brief procession during which the Maestros sing Pang Lingua. Flowers and confetti are scattered over the box when it is returned to the altar.

Wooden Clapper

Early in the afternoon a wooden clapper, so contrived with heavy wire that it makes a clattering sound when shaken, replaces the church bell which cannot be rung until "The Gloria" on Holy Saturday. The Chapayekas receive this clapper from the head Maestro and carry it around the Way of the Cross in the manner of a relay race. This is said to be for the purpose of blessing the crosses.

Pursuit of the Old Man

Sometime during the afternoon the Chapayekas, accompanied by several Fariseo corporals, take part in an event which previews the sufferings of Jesus on the Way of the Cross. Jesus is thought of by the Yaquis as a very old man (viejo) , and the diminutive Viejito is often used for Mm as a term of respect and affectionate devotion. It is so employed in this event. The Chapayeka chosen to represent the Viejito reluctantly sits down in front of the church cross facing east. The others put on his head a crown of cottonwood leaves and around his shoulders a horse-hair rope. They take away his weapons and give him a switch. Trailing his rope, he trots to the first station, followed by his companions. One Chapayeka lies down by the cross and the Viejito sits on his back, reciting prayers to himself. The others lie in parallel rows. After a brief interval the Viejito rises, switches each Chapayeka in turn, and trots to the next station. This is repeated at each station. As they return, the Viejito, showing signs of fatigue, is carried to the church cross. The others fan him in mockery, pretend to feed him, and to quench his thirst. Finally they pull Him up, tottering, to his feet. He goes among the crowd, back turned, asking for contributions of money to be used for the ceremonies, holding out his hat in his left hand. When he receives a gift, he jumps and shakes his rattles in the Chapayeka way of saying thank you.

Capture of the Nazarene

In the early evening, the figure of the Nazarene is taken in a brief procession of the cottonwood bower the Chapayekas have erected, representing the Garden of Gethsemane. The figure is placed on a table inside, and a sacristan takes his place beside it. About nine o'clock the members of the church group, shielding lighted candles in their hands, proceed from the church and take up a vigil behind the Garden in a flickering ring. The red tunic of the figure inside glows in the light of a lantern.

The Fariseos and Caballeros march to the church and two Chapayekas search for Jesus. They report to the officers in pantomime that He whom they seek has been there, but is there no longer. The captain commands his men to proceed to the Garden where they will seize Him. One year the captain said the following, translated from the Spanish:

I ask him if He is there. if He is inside, the Man whom we seek and whom we want to seize. He says [in pantomime] that surely He is there, but that He has left for outside, and that He has gone, but He has with Him many people. Then I say "Then we shall surely seize Him, because I have many good soldiers. Then let us follow Him, and let us seize Him in the orchard. Then let us make Him a prisoner in order to give Him punishment. Then let us capture Him, and now let us go."

To the harsh clack of the weapons of the Chapayekas, the Fariseos and Caballeros march to the east entrance of the plaza. The captain commands a Chapayeka to spy on the Garden. He leaps on his sword as if it were a horse, and advances boldly to the Garden, which he circles. He returns to report that He is there. The lines march, circle on themselves, and approach a few steps closer to the Garden. A second spy is sent, and a third, who brings back a twig as proof that He is there. The captain gives the order to advance and seize Him. The Chapayekas make menacing gestures with their weapons. As they stop in front of the Garden, the church group breaks into mournful song. The head Pilate advances to the Garden and strikes the ground three times with his lance. The sacristan inside asks whom he seeks. "Jesus of Nazareth," he replies, using the name for the first time. Pilate returns to his position. The lines cross in front of the Garden, march, draw closer than before. Again the dialogue between the Pilate and the sacristan. Again the march. The Pilate advances a third time. He is told that Jesus is inside. The Fariseos and Caballeros quickly encircle the Garden and stand at either side of it, facing the church. The Chapayekas meanwhile throw themselves down around the Garden and howl and cry like animals and birds. They rise and tear down the Garden. The captain of the Caballeros places a horsehair rope around the Nazarene, handing the end to the eager Chapayekas. Triumphantly, followed by the mourning church group, four Chapayekas carry the figure of the Nazarene into the church. A Chapayeka guard is placed over it.

At once a procession starts out which symbolizes a search by Mary for Jesus. No stops are made at the stations.

As the Maestros conduct the closing services, the guard keeps time with his dagger and sword, peers around him with an air of bravado, examines the church and the Nazarene. However, he is nervous, jumps at any sudden noise, and shivers and staggers when holy names are spoken. He is soon relieved by another Chapayeka. They exchange the rope backwards and left-handed. In pantomime the old guard instructs the new in his duties, and warns him in gestures that if he is not alert his head will be cut off. The guards are changed frequently.

Allstay in and around the church for the night.

The Rosary

A rosary is hung on the tip of each of the Caballero lances which stand crossed in front of the Nazarene. Throughout the cold night, corporals escort the Fariseos and Caballeros, pair after weary, silent pair, into the church to say their rosaries in front of the Nazarene. The candles go out one by one. It is almost dawn when the last of the Chapayekas, their masks on backwards on top of their heads, finish their rosaries.


The dawn devotions are observed by all groups.

The Crucifixion

In the late morning the wooden clapper summons people to church. Some of the Chapayekas run around the village reminding people to attend. The women are in dark clothes with no ornaments, and many have let down their hair. The bright crowns of the angels were replaced the

night before by wreaths of green leaves. The figures of the Virgin are draped in black. The Fariseos appear in black shirts and Yaqui sandals. A brown curtain obscures the altar.

About noon a procession starts out in the usual form, except that the Chapayekas are still in triumphant possession of the Nazarene. After the prayers at the first station, the procession separates into two parts. The men's group goes around the Way of the Cross in the usual direction, and pauses at the stations for the customary prayers. The women, with The Three Marys, go to the fourteenth station where they wait. One line of Fariseos and Caballeros goes with each group, the Chapayekas mimicking and teasing the Maestros. The two groups approach Calvary, the eleventh station, at the same time, which means the meeting of Mary and her Son at Calvary. The Way cross is laid as usual in front of the station. With their lances the Pilates make the sign of the cross and tap the Way cross three times at the foot and on each arm. A Chapayeka pretends to hammer a wooden nail in each place, in a symbolic representation of the crucifixion. AU move on to the next stations, thence to the church for the closing services. The sacristan fastens the Way cross to a stake in the ground in front of the altar, removes the figure from the large crucifix on the altar, and reverently binds it to the Way cross. This now represents the crucified Christ.

When the Fariseos disband, the Chapayekas rush forth and raze the crosses, and the corporals cover them with green branches symbolizing flowers.

Bier of Christ

In the afternoon, the Fariseos and Caballeros march to the household where the bier of Christ is decorated. It is daintily adorned with net, lace, ribbons and flowers. As they return with it, the church group meets them at the first station, and all go to the church where the bier is placed on a table.

Pilate Lances Jesus

Later in the afternoon the Fariseos and Caballeros march to the church. The faces of the Fariseos are covered with black scarves, their drum is draped in black, and the Pilates wear long black capes. The Chapayekas sharpen their swords and make threatening gestures. The head Pilate, accompanied by a Fariseo officer, advances to the Way cross three times, circling back each time to the entrance. He makes the sign of the cross in front of the Way cross three times and taps the ground three times. This action represents the lancing of Jesus. He passes quickly behind the brown curtain, past the altar and goes to his position in line. Immediately the Fariseos run around the Way of the Cross, which means that they are frightened and are trying to escape. When they return, the lance heads of the Pilates are covered with black. Meanwhile the Caballeros remain in place and turn the points of their weapons to the ground. This marks their final separation from the Fariseos.

Veneration of Christ

At once four men of the village, representing Nicodemus and wearing white cotton robes with black sashes and hoods, reverently receive the figure of Jesus from the cross and carry it to the church cross and back, accompanied by the flag girls and altar women. Gently they place it on a white cloth and silk pillow laid in front of the Way cross at the entrance of the church. The altar women shower it with confetti. The church is crowded for the tender and reverent ceremony that follows. All flag bearers wave in the four directions over the figure, then kneel in a row beside it. The Maestros sing hymns while all advance to venerate the figure. Shoes removed, they kneel three times on the way, the last time at the foot of the image, where the flag bearers touch the forehead of each with their flags for a blessing. Offerings of money, candles, and flowers are left. At the end, the flag bearers wave in the four directions as before. The four men in white lift the figure into the bier and cover it with a silk robe.

A procession around the Way of the Cross occurs at once, in which the bier is carried. No stops are made at the stations for prayers. This symbolizes taking Jesus to the tomb.

During the evening the Chapayekas take turns in guarding the bier, and as they watch they keep time to the hymns of the Maestros and singers. At some time during the evening there is a procession representing Mary looking for her Son.

The Resurrection

At midnight the altar women remove the mourning from The Three Marys and replace lavender flags and headdresses with red ones. The sacristan takes the mourning from the figure of the Infant Jesus which has been placed on the altar. All form the usual procession in which the Infant Jesus is carried under a canopy. At the first station, the procession separates into two parts. The men's group proceeds around the Way in the usual direction, and the women's group, looking for Jesus, goes in the opposite direction. No stops are made at the stations. As they approach the station, about half way around the church, the Chapayekas rush ahead and pretend to fight each other, flourishing their swords, and shooting off cap pistols. These represent the soldiers at the tomb of Jesus. The flag girls advance to the Infant Jesus and wave. The Three Marys are bowed three times each to the Infant Jesus, which is simultaneously bowed to them. The altar women throw confetti over the Infant Jesus. This is considered to be the moment of the Resurrection when "Jesus is born again as a baby." The same procedure takes place when they meet at the first station. AU join as one procession and they return to the church.

Meanwhile a sacristan removes the figure of Jesus from the bier, substituting a small object, generally one of the toys the Chapayekas have been playing with, in order to conceal from the Fariseos that Jesus has been taken away.

Chapayeka Fiesta

Sometime after midnight, often very late, the Fariseos, marching in quick time, jauntily carry the bier around the Way of the Cross, going in the wrong direction in a travesty of the processions. They are unaware that the figure of Jesus has been removed. A mock Chapayeka Orchestra accompanies them.

The bier is placed on a table in front of the church and a Chapayeka guard is placed over it. To the raucous music of their orchestra, the Chapayeka stage a mock fiesta of celebration. From time to time they peer into the bier with increasing anxiety. Finally realizing their loss, sadly they leave.

Meanwhile, behind the brown curtain, the altar women, assisted by the flag girls, having removed the mourning from the altar, dressed The Three Marys in new finery, and decorated the white sheets over and behind the altar with gay paper flowers and garlands.

All sleep in the church and near the barracks for the brief interval until dawn.


As the Maestros and the singers start the morning prayers, the Fariseos go quickly around the Way of the Cross, stopping at each station to stamp vigorously to "wake up the crosses" which have been "asleep" since the Chapayekas razed them on Good Friday, then join the Caballeros for dawn prayers at the church cross.

In preparation for the event of "The Gloria," the Chapayekas line the path from the church to the east entrance with fresh cottonwood twigs representing flowers, and move the church cross to a position near the east entrance. A line of ashes or lime is made across the path about fifty feet to the east of the church, marking the sent tebat or holy ground.

New Fire

Maestros and sacristans, bearing a triple-branched candlestick, emerge from the church led by acolytes, and proceed to the church cross where the candles are lighted in a brief ceremony of blessing the new fire. They return to the church.


Sometime in the morning the Chapayekas carry in procession a straw figure of Judas which they have constructed. Judas is dressed like a Chapayeka, and often borne on the back of a burro. A Chapayeka mockingly swings before him an evil-smelling censer. To the music of their dissonant orchestra, they march to the ash line, then around the Way of the Cross, going in the wrong direction. They fasten Judas to a pyre near the church cross, and dance before him. Swinging their censer before him, they tease and embrace him. He is their chief and they are doing him honor.

The Gloria

Inside the church, the Maestros read the Prophecies, which the continue as they move outside under the canopy.

As hundreds of visitors gather, the people of the village walk along the path to the church, dressed in their finest clothes for this greatest event of the year. Over all there is an air of excitement, a colorful expectancy in contrast to the mourning of the day before.

The Pascolas, their hair decked with bright crepe paper flowers preside over the canvas on the ground where people throw greens, flowers and confetti to be used as "ammunition" to "kill" the Fariseos. Near them is the Deer Dancer, who also has a flower in his headdress. Each of the women members of the church group carries a small bag of greens and flowers as she takes her place inside the church. Altar girls and angels stand before the altar ready to defend it. As each Matachini arrives he adds his bright flower regalia to the brilliant fringe already hanging on the lintel o the church. The Caballeros stand inside the ash line, making it clear that they are on the side of the church.

About noon or soon after, the Fariseos line up in front of their barracks. Their faces are covered with black scarves, most of them wear black shirts, and all except the Pilates wear Yaqui sandals. The Pilates are formidable in long black capes. Black skirts cover their lance heads. The drum is draped in black. "They are going to stand against the good until the last. They are not going to give up."

To the sharp beat of daggers against swords, they march to the east entrance, then turn and march toward the church part way to the ash line. As they turn sharply left and back, flags, flute, drum, and the Chapayeka rattles are all sounded. At the church cross near the east entrance, they turn again and march a little closer to the ash line. They march back and forth, then stop near the church cross. Godmothers run out to tie scarves around their arms. A Maestro or sacristan sends a message to the Fariseos who tear it and distribute a piece to each Chapayeka. They pretend to read it. When they find it to be an admonition to give up, they throw the papers to the ground and stamp on them. The Fariseos march again. The Chapayekas wave threatening swords at the Pascolas who taunt them and point to the flowers that will "kill" them. A second piece of paper is brought, and a third. The Fariseos vary their march steps. The Chapayekas sharpen their swords and flourish them at the Pascolas, who call to them to give up.

As the Maestros start to sing the Gloria, and as the hand bell and the church bell are rung, everyone instantly springs into action. The Fariseos dash toward the church. The Pascolas throw flowers at them fiercely, then dance. The Deer dances. The Matachinis dance. The angels dart out brandishing switches. The flag girls wave their flags. The Caball6ros kneel and cross themselves. The women of the church throw flowers. The air is filled with sudden color and motion. The Fariseos, repulsed by flowers, wheel at the ash line and run back. Still they do not give up. A few remove ankle rattles or sandals and give them to their waiting godparents. Marching and pantomime continue. As the Gloria is sung a second time, the Fariseos run forward a little beyond the ash line and, as all those guarding the church assault them as before, they retreat. They march again, with different steps. They discard more of their regalia. As the Gloria is sung a third time, the Fariseos run full tilt to the very door of the church, are repulsed as before, wheel, and run back to the Judas pyre. They throw on it their masks, swords and daggers, and it is lighted and all their symbols of evil are consumed in the flames. The Fariseos have been "killed" by flowers; that is, by the blood of Christ transformed into flowers, which is the logical climax of the flower theme. Their godparents throw coats or blankets over their heads and rush them to the altar to be re-dedicated to Jesus and to receive their flower or benediction. "When they shed their masks they get rid of all the evil they have represented and come into the church just as they are." Meanwhile the Caballeros run to the altar, kneel, and cross themselves and now stand outside the church. The Judas pyre flames high. Only two masks are saved for the use of the Fariseos. The Pascolas, Deer Dancer, and Matachinis dance in front of the church in celebration.

The Infant Jesus

As soon as the Fariseos have finished their ritual at the altar, an join in a full procession to take the Infant Jesus to the fiesta ramada. The men's church group and the Fariseos and Caballeros remain there for the night, and the women's group and the Matachinis return to the church.

The Fiesta

As on the night before Palm Sunday, the Pascolas and Deer Dancer dance all night in the fiesta ramada, and the Matachinis in front of the church. At sundown the Matachinis perform their beautiful Maypole dance. The Maypole is topped with a crown like those of the dancers.


Before dawn the Matachinis dance to unwind the Maypole. Dawn rituals are observed by other groups. The fiesta ramada is crowded when, sometime during the morning, the head Pascola delivers a sermon similar to those of the Maestros, but he always requests pardon for the actions of the Pascolas during the night. The Pascolas execute a few short steps. The Deer Dancer dances briefly in the pattern of a cross while his singers sing:

Our little flower raspers we lay beside the flower
We finish to the flower
From the sunrise now in the flower patio of the deer
Our little flower raspers we lay beside the flower
We finish to the flower

The singers make crosses on the ground with their raspers and with the water from the drum basin. The fiesta obligations of this group are now completed, and they are considered to have received the flower, or benediction, for their services in the Easter Ceremony. Now they move outside to entertain the crowd to the north of the path from the church. The Chapayekas have again marked it with fresh cottonwood twigs.

The altar from the fiesta ramada is placed in front of the church cross, which is still near the east entrance. The figure of the Infant Jesus is put on it, and a canopy is held over it. The men's church group gathers near it and the Fariseos and Caballeros stand at either side. The Caballeros still carry their weapons and flag, but the Fariseos now have only cottonwood switches and wear cottonwood twigs in their hats, showing that "those who have been evil have received the flower of the good." "On Sunday they receive the cottonwood leaves, which represent flowers, and their swords have turned into flowers and they are happy." The two men whose masks were saved from the Judas pyre wear them on top of their heads facing backwards. The lance heads of the Pilates are missing, and the flag bearers carry only the staffs of their flags. The godparents of the Fariseos stand next to them, burdened with their coats, sandals, and rattle belts.

The Alleluia

From the church now come four acolytes who stand in front of the altar facing the church. Two girl flag bearers appear at the entrance of the church, comely in fresh dresses. Each wears her flower crown. One carries a red flag, the other a small figure of the Virgin which today represents Mary Magdalene. They run a little way towards the Infant Jesus, then back. Again they run forward and back. A third run brings them to the altar. As one waves her flag, the other gently moves the Mary Magdalene in the sign of the cross before the Infant Jesus, while the head altar woman pins a pink rose on the Infant and showers it with confetti. The girls run back with news of the Resurrection, and the Maestros and singers sing the "Alleluia." The rose represents a message from Mary to her Son.

Final Procession

The Matachinis lead the women's church group from the church, and the Pascolas and Deer Dancer escort the men's group bearing the Infant Jesus. The church bell rings as the two groups meet, and The Three Marys and the Infant are bowed to each other three times. The Caballeros run to the church altar, cross themselves, and come out again. The Fariseos at a quick march go three times to the church and back. After the third run they discard their switches and twigs "in a final surrender."

All quickly assume the positions customary in processions and proceed to the church, led by the dancers. Mary has found her Son and is leading Him back to the church. At that moment, the Fariseos surrender their authority, and until the next Easter season the Matachinis are in charge of all ceremonies.

After a pause at the church, the procession continues around the plaza. On the return the holy figures are placed on the altar, and the Fariseos are taken by their godparents into the church for a ritual of re-dedication.

The Circle

All form a large circle near the church cross. In the center of this circle stand the Maestros and the Matachin leader. The head Maestro delivers a sermon in which he explains the meaning of the Easter Ceremony, mentions the parts all have played, and speaks of the benediction or flower that all will receive. Announcements are made of new vows and the completion of old ones. A report is given of money received and disbursed. In a final ritual the Fariseos and Caballeros go around the circle three times, touching hands and saying farewell until the following year. Small groups form similar thank-you circles. The altar is dismantled. Groups of people linger to talk in quiet exuberance, thankful that once more the great obligation, inherited from the yo'ora, the ancient ones, has been fulfilled.


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|University of Arizona Press|