Drawing on a fierce pride and wanting to honor those who came before us, the Northern Maya Association of Belize celebrated Maya Heroes Day 2019. The third annual celebration was held on Saturday, August 31, 2019 in Orange Walk Town, and saw a wonderful mix of symbolic rituals and activities that shine a light on the rich history of our Maya people.

A ceremonial Maya Cardinal Points Ritual added to the air of reverence for our forefathers, led by Ms. Felicita Cantun. A prayer for each cardinal point, highlighted by the drumbeat in the background, blessed the entire area for the day.

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Adding to the rich cultural celebration was a fantastic rendition of the Belize National Anthem in both English and Yucatec Mayan, beautifully performed by children of Juul K’iin Yo Creek Group.

Formal remarks and congratulations were in order after, provided by invited guests like the Mayor of Orange Walk Town Mr. Kevin Bernard, Mrs. Carla Rosado, the Liaison for the Museum of Belize and Houses of Culture of Belize, and the Northern Maya Association of Belize President Ms. Yahaira Vega. The pride of culture and appreciation of our legacy was clear and loudly proclaimed with each speech, and as it was the beginning of the September Celebrations, the theme for 2019 resonated particularly loudly: “From Maya Grandeur to Modern Glory, Together Let Us Shape the Belizean Story”.

Two people were honored for their contribution to the continued preservation of the Maya heritage.

Mr. Octavio Pott of Caledonia village was recognized for his musical contribution.

A talented player of the accordion, he is well-received at local celebrations, performing his heart out with gusto.

Mrs. Silvina Moh of San Jose Nuevo Palmar was honored for her contribution to teaching dance, having instructed numerous wonderful traditional dancers over the decades. Both were commended for their selflessness, never saying no to helping out once it is for the community. Congratulations to Mr. Pott and Mrs. Moh!

The rest of the day was dedicated to enjoying the traditions of our Maya Ancestors, with a demonstration of the Maya ball game Pok Ta Pok.

Two female teams faced each other in a friendly match under the hot sun, showcasing athleticism, discipline and effort for those in attendance.

The ceremonial pre-game blessings reminded us all of the way it was once before, when our ancestors thanked their gods for blessings before heading out for their day.

Dancers from surrounding villages like Yo Creek and San Narciso provided great entertainment of the Maya-Mestizo variety. Female dancers wore traditional huipils (dress) and floral arrangements in their hair, dancing and smiling onstage as they demonstrated complicated footwork.

The men wore their guayaberas and long pants, joining in smiling as they too showcased their dance skills.

The littlest performers had big smiles on their faces, drawing applause from the gathered crowd. Generations of villagers shared one skill, one stage and one love for their ancestry.

Traditional food and crafts were bought and enjoyed, in a successful celebration of the third annual Maya Heroes Day. Congratulations to the Northern Maya Association of Belize for a spectacular presentation. Long may we preserve our culture and heritage, with pride and dignity.

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About the Author: Mary Gonzalez

Mary Gonzalez writes under the pseudonym 'Tia Chocolate'. Tia Chocolate enjoys writing short stories that focus on her life growing up in the small Maya village of San Antonio, Cayo District, Belize.
Tia loves (and we mean LOVE) eating and writing about her food experiences, often times trying out new recipes to try and recreate the foods of her memories. She also loves to travel, indulging in the culture wherever she is privy to visit.
She is slave to a giant cat named Kitty Boo Boo, and her cooking exploits are enjoyed by her significant other, Pookie.

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