July 20th, Dia de Lempira
The most important celebration in the City of Gracias is Dia de Lempira which is celebrated on July 20th of every year. Dia de Lempira symbolizes national pride and honor to the Lenca People and particularly to Chief Lempira, the first defender of our national sovereignty against the colonial invaders in 1536.
Lempira, which means Lord of the Mountains, was able to unite and organize the different Lenca subgroups into a strong resistance against the Spaniards. According to legend he was able to gather 30,000 defenders in Cerquin Mountain against the Spanish invaders causing them heavy casualties in a six month war. Lempira's death occurred when the Spaniards invited him to a false peace meeting on the edge of a high cliff in Piedra Parada Hill. When Lempira refused to make peace a concealed soldier shot him on the forehead and he fell off the cliff. After Lempira's death the Lenca revolt fell apart and the Spaniards were able to colonize the region.
Dia the Lempira has grown into a one month celebration in July of every year in the City of Gracias. The celebration includes gastronomy festivals, dances, art exhibits, the election of India Bonita (Beautiful Indian Queen) and the peak eventwhich is the dramatization of the death of Lempira. During the month celebration, students from the different schools participate in colorful parades that include the display of colorful indian customs, traditional dresses and dances and forums about Lenca culture, history and issues dealing with nationalistic themes.
The celebration attracts tourists and visitors form all over the world and it is without a doubt one of the largest celebrations in Honduras.
Beautiful clay figures are part of the Lenca tradition.
Driving around Gracias you are able to see native Lencas.
Religious festivals and Lempira Day on July 20th offer a great opportunity to see the beautiful dresses and ancient traditions of the Lenca People.