Culture – Indigenous / Religious

Indigenous and Religious Culture

The County of Alamos encompasses a large geographic area where two distinct indigenous groups call home, the Guarijío and the Mayo people.

Guarijío –Makurawe

The Guarijíosof Sonora with a population of 3,000, live in small pueblos throughout the county of Alamos, such San Bernardo, Los Bajíos, Mochibampo, Bavícora and the Mesa Colorada region of the Sierra.

They call themselves “Makurawe” or “Macoragüi,” a word that means “those who walk the land,” or “those who hold on to the land”.Famous for their “tuburadas” , also known as a “Cava-Pizca”, a celebration of the natural and spiritual worlds through dance, music, theater and religious ceremonies. Ceremonies can be experienced by visiting the villages during holidays that coincide with the Catholic calendar and their Patron Saint’s Day.

Guarijío craft include traditional items from natural materials such as palm branches, clay and trees to create woven baskets, hats and mats, and dolls. Wood carvers make musical instruments and figures of colorfully painted animals. These items can be found during festivals or at the Alamos Mercado de ARTESENIAS.

The Guarijíos – Makurawe have a strong cultural connection with their neighbors, the Yoreme Mayo.

Mayo –Yoreme

The Mayo of the “Valley of the Mayo” with a population of 80,000, continue their rich cultural traditions in Mayo pueblos like Masiaca and Teachive, Etchojoa and El Júpare. Originally they lived near the Mayo River and Fuerte River valleys.

In their “tara-cahita” language, the word Mayo means “people from the shore”, and they refer to each other as Yoreme, “the people who respect tradition”.

The Mayo sustain themselves mainly by agriculture and fishing, but also create artwork and crafts, which can be found at special events or at the Alamos Mercado de ARTESENIAS.

To help the languages of the local indigenous communities, Radio Indigena XEETCH in Etchojoa, features programming in Mayo, Yaqui and Guarijio languages.

The Mayo – Yoreme and Guarijío –Makurawe are known for their strong religious faith and adherence to customs and traditions. Their world view is greatly influenced by the natural world and the Catholic faith. They celebrate several religious and cultural events throughout the year, many of which are colorful, beautiful spectacles to observe.

Annual Cultural & Religious Events

Major annual religious events and ceremonies celebrated by all Álamenses.

Religious & Cultural Events

Cuaresma – Easter (40 days of Lent)

Lent starts each year on Ash Wednesday, lasting Forty Days culminating in Easter Sunday. Easter is the biggest family Holiday in Mexico, where families come together and businesses are closed for days.

The indigenous communities send their “Fariseos and Chapayekas”, men on religious pilgrimage, dressed with deer hoof rattles and masked, out collecting goodness as they travel from town to town for the 40 days of Lent. They collect money and food as they go to support themselves during Lent as they are not able to return home nor speak while wearing their masks in order to meet commitments and penances. On Saturday of Glory, at the village Churches, the Chapayekas burn the masks and items used during the 40 days along with, the effigy of Judas Iscariote, symbolizing cleansing and rebirth.


Carnival is related to Easter as the final blow-out before Lenten promises and penances. Alamos celebrates with pageant queen of the carnival, music, and “cascarones”, painted eggshells filled with confetti, that are broken over unsuspecting people strolling on the Plaza after Mass.

Viernes de Dolores

Celebrated on the Friday before Good Friday. Households and neighborhoods throughout town decorate elaborate “incendios” or altars displayed in windows and doorways for all to see. The altars commemorate the suffering of the Mother of Christ. In the evening people stroll the streets to view the altars.

Día de los Muertos – Day of the Dead


Paper Mache Calacas “Skeletons” adorn the Plaza de Armas and Church, as well as Altars to love ones. Stilt Walker Performers accompany Street Musicians in celebrating life with procession and theatre to engage the public in the cycle of death and life.

The “Panteon” or Cemetery is the center of activity for days prior while tombs are painted and flowers placed for the festivities on the 1st and 2nd of November when families and friends will gather with music, food and drink to celebrate the life of love ones lost. Traditionally the night of the 1st celebrates the departed children, and the 2nd adults.

Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de la Balvanera

The fiesta in La Aduana is the 20th of November. Nine days before the Fiesta, the statue of the Virgin is taken from the Alamos church at dawn with bells ringing for the start of the quiet procession back to Aduana. It is a nine day novena petitioning or thanking the Virgin as people make the pilgrimage back and forth from Alamos. The last few days before the fiesta, the pilgrimage grows and people start walking from further distances. It is estimated that approximately 10,000 people attend this very traditional fiesta during the two day celebration.

Fiestas Patronales – Purisima de Concepcion

A week long celebration is centered around the feast day of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th in honor of the Patron Saint of Alamos. Festivities begin very evening on the Plaza de Armas right after Mass where one will find regional food booths and entertainment for all.

Fiesta of the Virgen de Guadalupe

The Virgen de Guadalupe is the Patron Saint of Mexico and is a national symbol. As the Virgin of the Americas, Guadalupe is the perfect blend indigenous beliefs of Tonantzin, the Aztec mother goddess and the European Catholic mother of Christ. Homage to the Virgin is celebrated on December 12th with alighted altars throughout town, a Mass, and a night-long Feast.Her image is found throughout Mexico, in shrines beside roads, on tile murals in homes, along country trails, and the sides of mountains.

Posadas – Christmas – Día de los Reyes

Posadas occur for days leading to Christmas Eve, where the community gathers in procession often led by the Estudiantina going from house to house asking for shelter as did Mary and Joseph before the birth of Christ. Shelter is given and a feast proceeds. Luminarias, the burro carrying tequila, and the Estudiantina stroll the streets on Christmas Eve follow by all going to midnight Mass. Christmas is a quiet family day. Traditionally, Día de los Reyes (Epiphany) is celebrated with gifts and the holiday pastry, “Rosca de Reyes” (ring of the kings), in which a baby Jesus figurine is hidden. Whoever, finds the figurine is responsible for having it blessed on Dia de la Candelaria, February 2nd.

Día de San Juan

Indigenous communities celebrate their Patron Saint’s Day with dances and feasts. Many communities celebrate Día de San Juan, the 24th of June, in appreciation for the summer rains, as it traditionally rains on this day.