In the small community of La Ceja, Zacatecas, México, La Danza (The Dance) has been celebrated for more than a century every May 3. The celebration draws people from the region for a special mass, followed by indigenous-rooted dances where participants form rows and move to the sound of sones (violin-driving music) the entire night -- all to worship the Holy Cross.
Some from La Ceja who now live in the United States still travel to México to witness or participate in the event. The faith and devotion that they have for the Holy Cross is such that missing out on a trip to La Ceja for the ceremony causes a lot of heartache.
That is why Manuel Guzmán Rodríguez organized La Danza in Earlimart.
"It was in 1982 when I thought of having a Danza. During that time, we didn't have any carriceras (part of the wardrobe), we didn't have anything. I only thought of staying up the whole night to worship the Holy Cross and dancing without the traditional attire," explained Manuel. "During that time we only gathered about 10 dancers per row. Nowadays we have 35 dancers in each row and I think that's great."
Among the group of dancers that have come together are Manuel's children and grandchildren who have inherited the love for this tradition.
"I think that is why the celebration has been around for so many years, because our great grandparents, grandparents, and parents have taught us. Now we are teaching our children," said Serafín Guzmán, Manuel's oldest son.
"I hope this continues because it is a beautiful religious tradition. For us, it is something we take very seriously. It is not a party where people go and drink; more than fun, it is a devotion," he added.
Gloria Vielmas, Manuel's daughter, has been dancing since she was a little girl. After starting her own family, she has continued to dance.