For the pre hispanic Lencas Guancasco was an annual religious celebration between two Lenca communities to promise peace. The two Lenca towns or communities would meet halfway and exchange gifts, make oral peace promises, dance and drink chocolate.
After the Spanish conquest the celebration became a syncretism between the traditional Lenca Guancasco and the Catholic Religion. The Lenca idols were replaced by the Catholic Saints and the Guancasco celebration now centers around the fair for the communities patron saints and other annual Catholic holidays.
For Guancasco the two Lenca towns meet halfway carrying the Catholic church saints and walk together in religious procession to the hosting town. During the procession they walk and dance and recite old dialogs. Ahead of the procession walks the Malinche, the Monarch head of the Villano dancers, the church Majordomo, followed by the Villano dancers and los Negros who wear animal skin masks. The dancers from Gracias are known as Villanos which means from the Villa of Gracias. In the background guitar and violin players play old Spanish songs. Once the procession reaches the host town the traditional Guancasco dance takes place followed by fireworks.
In the Guancasco between Mexicapa and San Sebastian in Gracias there are some peculiarities including the Encierro, a closed door male only gathering where alcohol and food is served. Also, ahead of the Guancasco dancers a colorful dressed girl known as Malinche dances and sings traditional songs.
The Malinche seems to be part or another syncretism between Lenca-Catholic Guancasco with Mexican Nahualth culture. The Malinche was during the Mexican conquest the native Nahualth speaker and translator that helped Hernan Cortez conquest Mexico.
According to historic records Malinche came with Hernan Cortez to Honduras in 1524 as a translator and Cortez's mistress to help suppress Cristobal de Olid rebellion against Cortez. It is known that Malinche was knowledgeable of several Mesoamerican native languages. Along with Cortez and Malinche came hundreds of Mexican Indians to help Cortez. After Cortez left several of the Mexican Indians remained in Honduras and formed Nahualtl speaking communities around the main cities. In the case of Gracias they formed Mexicapa.
Mexicapa celebrates its Guancasco with Gracias, the capital of Lempira Dec. 12-16 in Mexicapa for Santa Lucia and Jan. 19-25 in Gracias for San Sebastian.
La Campa, Lempira celebrates its Guancasco with Belen Feb. 15-24 in La Campa for St. Matthew and Dec. 17-23 in Belen for the Virgin of the Rosary.
The following photos were contributed by Thania Moerkerk Schrunder and Byron Lumbardo Mejia
Religous festivals and the Lempira Day on July 20th is a great oportunity to see the beautiful dresses and ancient traditions of the Lenca People.