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Velación: Cleansing Ceremony
Velaciones are held the night before all major ceremonies. In indigenous cultures, incense is used in purification ceremonies.
Velación: Making Tamales
Tamales are made during a velación but not served until the next day.
Concheras are traditional musicians who play instruments called conchas, which are covered with an armadillo shell.
Velación: Conch Shell
During the velación, which is a mix of Catholic and indigenous religions, a conch shell is often sounded.
This was taken at the velación the night before Dia de la Cruz.
Almost all ceremonies feature dances. These dancers are called chinelos
Traditions are kept alive by passing them to the next generation.
Aztec Dancers often perform outside the church on feast days.
Vaqueros (cowboys) dance at many feast days.
One of the Vaquero dances features a small bull fighting a Vaquero with a machete.
Cohetes (bottle rockets) are an integral part of ceremonies.
Lighting a Cohete
A traditional way to light a cohete is to hold it with two fingers, put a lit cigarette to it and, hopefully, let go at the right moment.
All ceremonies feature processions, some lasting several hours.
Carrying a Nicho
During processions, people carry nichos--boxes with a figure inside--on their backs.
As this procession reached a house, confetti was tossed in the air.
Processions are accompanied by the ringing of a hand bell.
Virtually all processions are accompanied by a traditional Mexican band.
Food is served before, during and after processions.
Pulque is a traditional drink often served during ceremonies, feast days and other events.
Elements of Fiestas in San Gregorio
San Gregorio Atlapulco is in the southernmost part of Mexico City and is designated as a "Pueblo Originario," which means it has conserved its indigenous traditions. Part of those traditions are its fiestas.