Paach ceremony

Inscribed in 2013 (8.COM) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding

© 2010 by Ministry of Culture and Sports of Guatemala
The Paach ceremony is a corn-veneration ritual celebrated in San Pedro Sacatepéquez. The ceremony gives thanks for good harvests in a ritual that highlights the close connection between humans and nature and features prayers in the Mam language. The participants are mostly older farmers, both men and women, with extensive ties to the community and who are recognized as its leaders. Four prayer sayers, or ''parlamenteros'', offer prayers during the ceremony, supported by four auxiliary ''parlamenteros''; meanwhile four godmothers dress ceremonial corncobs and coordinate the preparation and serving of food. The Paach ceremony strengthens the identity of the community of San Pedro and its knowledge and respect for nature and its conservation. The transmission process is both oral and practical, with a group leader instructing new members at workshops and children accompanying their grandparents during the ceremony. In recent years, the Paach ceremony has decreased in frequency, with some young people seeing it as irrelevant, while economic insecurity has caused some bearers to withdraw from the practice. Furthermore, the advanced age of the elders, combined with diminished transmission, might result in the disappearance of this cultural expression.