Q'eqchi' - Religion and Expressive Culture



Traditional beliefs in the Tzuultaq'a (gods of the mountains and valleys) have been influenced by the Catholic church. The Q'eqchi' have accepted the Christian God, and they hold fiestas to celebrate the patron saint of each village. Within the Q'eqchi' cosmology, the Tzuultaq'a preside over nature. It is believed that the Tzuultaq'a live in caves in the mountains, from which they are able to maintain the natural order.

Other than the priest of each local Catholic church, there are three types of traditional religious specialists: ilonel, curers who use ceremonies and herbs; aj ke, diviners who advise and predict; and aj tul, sorcerers who cast spells. Although these are three separate roles, it is possible for one person to fulfill all three.

Before planting his crops each year, the farmer and his wife perform a fertility ritual. They simulate intercourse in three corners of their dwelling and then consummate the act in the fourth corner. Other ceremonies include both the veneration of saints and idols at altars within the homes and observance of the Day of the Dead.

At death the body is wrapped in a petate (a straw sleeping mat) and buried with all the things that will be needed for the journey to the afterlife. These items include a hat, sandals, and a net.

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