The Parachico or Parachicos are traditional dancers from Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas, Mexico, who dance on the streets of the town during the Great Feast festivity, which takes place from January 15 to 23 every year. The festivity takes place in honor of the local patron saints Black Christ of Esquipulas, Saint Anthony Abbot and Saint Sebastian. It is claimed locally, as many of the Catholic festivals are in Latin America, to have its roots in the much older indigenous culture. So it has developed into a hybrid of old indigenous culture and newer Catholic and Spanish cultures. The church where the festival concludes is home to an old tree, which is said to represent the "tree of life" (drawing on Maya and other pre-Hispanic American cultures), which is claimed locally to predate the church, which would suggest that this site was used for ceremonies before the arrival of Catholicism. Honoring the mother of the cured boy (for the feast) is also locally explained, why on certain nights during the festival, the town's men dress as women and parade through the streets.
The festivities, which include Roman Catholic religious ceremonies, music, dancing and local cuisine, have been included in UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists on November 16, 2010, listed as "Parachicos in the traditional January feast of Chiapa de Corzo".
It has pre hispanic origins, however, the traditional dates back to the seventeenth century with the arrival of the image of San Sebastian Martyr to the then Royal Villa Chiapa or Chiapa of the indians and the building of the temple, completed in the seventeenth century. There are many versions of the history of parachico but all agree to the myth that one day a beautiful woman seeking a cure for her sick son but after visiting doctor and healers, failed to alleviate it. Someone told her to go Chiapas where surely find the cure, then she moved with all its servants.Where his son finally healed.
When he realized that the village was of humble people, he tried to reward them by distributing food. Meanwhile the natives danced around the boy - painted and disguised - to look white like his mother and the little one would not be scared. When the lady -which supposedly answers to the name of lady Maria de Angulo-, gave the gifts to the dancers she said: "for the boy", words that with the indigenous dialect were summarized in "Parachico".
Oral tradition also refers to another version. It is said that in the middle of the 18th century a Spanish lady arrived in Chiapa de Corzo, coming from Guatemala, who had a sick son whom the doctors had not been able to cure. She had arrived in Chiapa de Corzo with his son and a large number of servants because she wanted to consult a famed Indian healer and went to visit him: "Open the way for my lady María de Angulo to come by!" Shouted the servants of the lady . The healer recommended that the rich Spanish take her sick son to the healing waters of Cumbujuyú and bathe him for nine days. This done, the boy healed and she retired to Guatemala happy.
In the years 1767 and 1768, a plague of locusts destroyed the crops of Chiapa and the population suffered famine and after this calamity, an epidemic broke out that killed almost half of its population. In full misery and abandonment, they arrived at Chiapa de Corzo a mule train loaded with large pantries: corn, beans, vegetables and money. The people could not believe it and they heard again that voice of the servants: "Open field ... open field, that my mistress, lady Maria de Angulo, will pass!".
The servants distributed the pantries to the families, and during the nights the servants and the servants danced and danced for the amusement of the children. They also threw candy at them and warned: "Remember, gentlemen, your children, the gifts are for the children!" In memory of the son of María de Angulo. Thus the tradition of the parachicos was born. Each year, the city celebrates this event by representing Mrs. Maria de Angulo, who travels aboard an allegorical car, throwing gold coins, sweets, confetti and sweets.
Parachicos wear wooden masks with Caucasian features, such as light skin, facial hair and blue eyes, in contrast to Native people's features. They also wear a round headdress, colorful ribbons, striped serapes, embroidered shawls, usually over black or dark shirt and trousers.
Parachicos use metallic rattles locally known as chinchin or chinchines, with colorful ribbons attached to the top and/or handles, which are shaken as they dance and chant.
Declaration as Intangible Cultural Heritage
On November 16, 2010, the act of parachicos was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. The decision was adopted at the meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, held in Nairobi, Kenya, under the name "Parachicos in the traditional January feast of Chiapa de Corzo
- "Parachicos in the traditional January feast of Chiapa de Corzo". UNESCO Culture Sector. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
- Jiménez, G (2009). Guía para descubrir los encantos del estado. Mexico: Océano. p. 36.