The Pandemic and the Raramuri
Updated: Aug 10
The Rarámuri in times of pandemic
By Sanjuana Oliva Briones MT (Missionary Religious of the Tarahumara)
In 2020, the start of the pandemic in Mexico coincided with the celebrations of Lent and Holy Week. The health alarm at the potential for contagion led to modifying the ways of living and carrying out the different rites and religious ceremonies typical of that time. In the Sierra Tarahumara, where holy days are central to the life of the Rarámuri, it was no exception. They were invited to avoid mass community gatherings, exhorted to hold them with fewer people, in their homes. Some communities heeded the call of the health authorities, others chose to gather in small nuclei, by families. And in the most remote and distant, what happened? -Life followed its course and "blessed" by a remote context they continued with ordinary life and their daily activities of each day and each time.
One year after the contingency, the Rarámuri continue to live as they know, they continue to party in silence and under the stars as their “Onorúame” God discreetly commissioned them, but without stopping playing the violin and guitar. They continue to go to work in the fields the State of Sinaloa. The trucks that carry re-couplings to the orchards of La Junta and Cuauhtémoc have also been seen taking people in their working seasons. In their ranches they have cared for and cured the land, they have cleaned and brought food to the water spring so that there is always new water.
There was little rain, and consequently little and poor harvest. However, they do not deny, they do not succumb to the elements. They get up and walk to look for the maguey flowers that also feed, go down and up looking for “nopales” (a type of edible cactus) and prickly pears. They gather and dry the mushrooms, green beans and fruit that they can to preserve it and enjoy it when there is nothing else. Someone said "How is that disease (COVID) going to end if we don't have our party, if we don't dance Yúmari?" And so, little by little they were assuming the new reality, and their shawls and bandanas turned them into mouth covers, they understood that when they left there was danger, the same as when people from outside arrived. With simplicity, without exaggeration and above all without hopelessness.
And life goes on. Now with greater force they seek to be good Rarámuri, they want to take care of their lives, their families, their animals and their lands. They sit and contemplate the infinite world that Onorúame entrusted them to take care of, then they stand up and walk wherever necessary regardless of the distances or the weather.
In these times of pandemic, it could be said that its location, worldview and lifestyle are part of its great strengths. For now, so far my reflection.
Cheriera ba! (Thank you)