The bells of San Juan Chamula

It is the first of November and the bells ring very early. The rhythmic melody that you will hear, is accompanied by feelings that fill the inhabitants of Chamula with joy and nostalgia.

The indigenous authorities, in a very special ritual from very early on, meet in the central square of the Church of San Juan Bautista. It is noon and you have to call the Souls. One by one, they take turns pulling the rope so to ring the bells that are tied to it at the top of the bell tower. There are three bells, thirty meters of rope, the task is not easy. You have to know when to pull the rope so you don’t miss a beat. The melody emitted by the bells has to be harmonious, as if they were a chorus of voices calling to heaven.

The people of the town join this task and they line up to participate in this activity, it is their tradition and they want to call the souls of their dead. For two days the bells ring non-stop from noon until sunset. With this, the souls will find their way back home. On day 02 the sound is to send them off.

Some visitors participate in tradition. They see it as something fun, something that is not usual in their places of origin. The authorities accept the participation of men and women, it does not matter if they are strangers in the town: these are festive days and everyone has the right to call their dead, whether or not they understand the meaning of their tradition …