Kite Festival in Guatemala

Published November 4, 2006 by John

If there is one thing that festivals in Guatemala don’t lack, it’s color. I’ve seen pictures of Semana Santa in Antigua, where people make elaborate sawdust and flower carpets for processions during Holy Week.

Now I’ve just seen a reference to an annual kite festival held in Santiago, Sacatapequez on Day of the Dead (November 1). These are not “kites” like you picture flying in your neighborhood park, but rather huge creations of color and movement that take over the sky. With Halloween reduced to a candy sale in the States, it’s a change to see a celebration where the meaning of this time of year has a bit more depth.

While Day of the Dead seems to be pretty consistently celebrated as a time of remembrance for those who have gone before, with offerings and ceremony, nobody seems to be quite sure exactly what the kites are for, and I don’t know that it really matters. Some say they are ways of communicating with the spirits, others that they are for lifting the souls back to the heavens, or are frightening way bad spirits. Whatever the reason, kites have a draw something like that of a fire, begging to be watched as a they dance around in the wind. I can only imagine the powerful spectacle of this celebration.

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  1. Greg Scherer says:

    John, I share your feelings about Guate having been there with the Common Hope Project in Antigua 33 humbling times. I think they fly the kites for all the reasons because they are interconnected. I’ve seen kites in the air at Scatepequez Santiago so thick a bird couldn’t fly through the strings, each of them connected to an individual loved one, all of them interconnected with the human race. The dancing of the kites are the spirits talking to us, the size and colors (which represent the outer manifestation of our inner souls or spirits) cleanse out evil spirits with their strength and the souls of the departed are carried back to the underworld or heaven (being Christian or Mayan emphasis) on the flying kites. Another reason: the Guatemalans just love to get together and celebrate things. Color and noise are part of the culture. They are incredibly inclusive. Everyone can find some way to participate during Semana Santa and La Dia de Los Muertes. To whomever has never visited Antigua guatemala, I say, GO!

    Posted January 13, 2009 @ 2:59 am
  2. John says:

    Thanks for your thoughts, Greg, and your reference to Common Hope, a truly wonderful organization.

    Posted January 13, 2009 @ 9:45 pm

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