Wayuu Traditions

Wayuu customs and traditions they come from those enigmas about existence and everything that surrounds them. The Wayuu are great storytellers for belonging to a culture full of legends and myths.

The Wayuu indigenous people work to promote conservation and cultural integration. Thus, Every year the Wayúu Culture Festival is celebrated a party full of colors, dances, music, legends and sports typical of the culture.

Undoubtedly, knowing this Wayuu universe is entering a space full of wisdom and respect for life.

Customs and traditions

The wayuu confinement or bleaching

The most awaited moment for every majayulu (adolescent woman) is the day of her first menstruation. Only in this state is she considered a wise, independent woman and all the knowledge of her culture is transferred to her.

For a whole week he receives the pampering and care of his relatives in a female ceremony called the encierro. This tradition forces the little woman to be locked up at home, to keep her away from bad energy.

  • The rite begins with a bath to hydrate and soften all your skinespecially the skin. Said bath is made of kutena or naked Indian water (a typical tree of La Guajira).
  • His diet is based on fermented beverages that exert a positive impact on their microbiota. Guarapo, corn chicha or juices extracted from roots are one of them.
  • They say that when a woman decides to cut her hair it is because her life is about to change radically. And so it is the hair is cut so that it grows much stronger.

After having complied with their confinement or laundering, they receive it with the Yonna dance as a celebration and presentation of the new majayulu.

Wayuu dance: La yona

It is one of the most representative customs of the Wayuu people. the jona dance They are celebrated for special reasons such as a good harvest, the welcome or the honor of someone.

The dance is performed on a clear and flat ground called the pioi. Going out to dance not only implies having a good time and meeting in society, but also giving thanks for what one has or for what one hopes to obtain.

When a Wayuu man enters the circle he challenges the women. One of them dances until she gets tired or knocks her down. The man has to dance with all the Wayuu and the closeness between them implies liking or disliking, thus being able to start a friendly relationship.

After the festivities are over A gift is offered to all the girls and women who have participated in recognition of the value of their legs.

The Wayuu Wedding

When a Wayuu woman and man want to get married they have to go through certain unbreakable processes before the marriage ceremony:

  • Request for hand: the groom is not the person who communicates his marriage intentions to the parents of the claimant. The person in charge is the uncle when he was young, otherwise it would be disrespectful to the family and tradition.
  • dowry covenant: The dowry is a collection by the man where he delivers necklaces, animals, and other goods to the bride's family. In the Wayuu culture, the woman is the most important member of the community and her departure represents a great loss for her relatives.
  • Wayuu marriage day: A great party and celebration is created where the interfamily relationship is formalized and the agreed dowry is delivered.

Guajira law

Guajira law is exercised through oral expression and the word is everything.

The palabrero or pütchipü'üi, is in charge of orally directing in wayunaiki the Wayúu Normative System. Said system is the set of rules, guidelines and laws that regulate the behavior of the community.

As regards responsibility civil, criminal or wayuu justice, is agreed with compensation in the form of cattle or money.

For example, if the way of acting has caused tears in a woman, even if it was unintentional, compensation is demanded. If he does not pay to the satisfaction of the offended, the war between families is announced to counteract the damage caused.

The road to Jepira

In the Wayuu culture, two wakes are held. This, the first does not represent an eternal farewell since in his second farewell (after 15 years of his death), the soul of the deceased arrives at the gates of Jepira (land of the dead).

The relatives of the deceased prepare the facilities for friends and relatives who come from afar. They cook large quantities of chirrinche (guajiro artisan liquor), goat meats and Numerous hammocks or hammocks are accommodated for the guests.

During the day they watch over the deceased, mourn him, and remember him with longing. At nightfall they gather in their hammocks to talk, tell jokes, drink coffee or smoke a cigar.

On the day of the burial, the deceased is taken out of the house to be taken to the cemetery. While relatives and relatives continue next to the grave, other relatives fire shots into the air to dismiss the dead from the ground.

The second Wayuu wake

After 10 or 15 years after the first burial, the relatives gather to prepare the second wake. In this ceremony, An elderly woman in the family is in charge of removing the remains of the corpse and cleaning the bones to later place them in a clay pot.

The ceremony has the same characteristics as the first wake but, this time represents a true farewell. Since the remains are taken to the ancestral cemetery and buried forever.

From this moment his name will no longer be mentioned and his memory will be honored forever. The soul of the deceased is now ready to leave for Jeripa.

Wayúu Culture Festival

It is the most significant and representative party of the Wayuu culture. Women with colorful fabrics, gastronomy, percussion and dance draw attention, not only to members of the ethnic group, but also to tourists and visitors to the area.

the festival is held every year between June 12, 13 and 14. Three days without any rest full of fun, praising customs such as:

  • Majayut: the next Wayuu community ambassador is chosen for her knowledge of the Wayunaiki language, traditions and current reality. 
  • Plays: children interpret the myths and legends of their culture.
  • Contests: Wayuu instruments such as the kasha, the tariraü, the wontoloyaa and the turompa.
  • Craft samples: ceramics and weaving, where the Wayuu backpacks give rise to a parade of colorful threads full of meaning.
  • Dances: like the Yonna or Kaulayaa.
  • Competitions: such as cardón (cactus) shooting, wrestling, slingshot and horse racing.
  • Gastronomic samples: with typical dishes such as friche, mazamorra and fish.

Guajiro Carnival

It is the best known festival of La Guajira, It is not a proper Wayuu event, but rather Guajiro where other peoples who live along the coast mingle. But the Wayuu do not go unnoticed, showing their best clothes, they steal the attention of those present. Those curious about this culture enjoy and delve into everything that this Wayuu universe offers.

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