Showcase spotlights Purépecha culture

For Salvador Ramos, the large number of people who attended the Purépecha celebration in Visalia on Feb. 9 was the result of hard work.

"This is more people than I expected," said Ramos, a fellow with the Organizing Tamejavi Through Culture Program, which is directed by the Pan Valley Institute of the American Friends Services Committee and sponsored by the James Irvine Foundation and the National Council of the Arts.

This is the first event of its kind organized in the Central Valley to promote Purépecha culture.

"The idea was to bring together people Purépecha and thus present some of our culture and to share with other people," said Salvador Ramos, Purépecha cultural event organizer. "There are very few purépechas in the Valley."

The event promoting the richness of the Purépecha culture and traditions was the first in the series of nine cultural events that are taking place through May 18 in Visalia, Fresno, Madera and Livingston as part of the Tamejavi Art and Culture Series -- Building a Sense of Place a Celebration of Color, Language and Heritage.

"(The series) promotes civic engagement in their communities," said Myrna Martínez Nateras, Pan Valley Institute program director in the Central Valley. "The Central Valley is very different."

Those who attended the event had the opportunity to live and enjoy the music and dance of delight Purépechas and their culinary arts. A major focus of the event was the importance of oral tradition in the preservation of indigenous cultures and the history of their ancestors.

"There are many people interested in learning about our culture," Ramos said.

During the event, the assistant could enjoy various food samples including typical Purépecha Atapakuas mushrooms, peas, cheese and chubs with nopales. Mixtec Atapakuas is a mole made with dense mass that carries no fat.

There was also Korundas criollo or mestizo, a tamale wrapped in leaves of the plant stem or fresh corn, also called ash tamale.

The music included pirekuas, songs that express the feeling Purépecha which are articulated in the joys, sorrows and nostalgia Irecha performed by the Trío, originally from Tzintzuntzan, Michoacán. The traditional old men's dance was also presented.

Lucilda Rangel traveled four hours from Dixon to attend the meeting and help Purépecha.

Rangel, who is originally from Cheran, Michoacan, said the event helped her to "relive all, remember and teach my children some of the customs and traditions of our culture."

Dressed in a typical costume from Cheran, Michoacán, Alma Ramos handed handmade crafts during the presentation of the feast of Corpus Christi held in Michoacán. In celebration, the Purépecha share their craft with community members.

Among the crafts were handmade napkins for tortillas, chiquigüites, chundes, guajes, jícaras and táscales.

"It's a small sample of Michoacán Purépecha culture," said Alma Ramos.

Visalia'a Rico Flor, a San Luis Potosí native, said he attended the event because he likes learning about other cultures.

"They need to do more cultural events like this," Rico said. "It's completely different even though I'm from México."

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