In the Mexican town of Cajititlán the petitions to the Wise Kings do not arrive in a letter or balloon, but in the prayers of thousands of people who travel to their sanctuary to ask for miracles.
Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar are the center of attention of this town south of Guadalajara, capital of the western state of Jalisco, where up to two million visitors from all over the country and the United States come attracted by faith or curiosity. Know the holiday around January 6.
The celebration of the three figures, which are considered miraculous, extends from December 31 to January 8. Nine days in which there is popular music, pre-Hispanic dances and fireworks, but also pilgrimages, prayers and a lot of faith.
The faithful enter the sanctuary standing or kneeling to where the figures of the three wise men, about two meters high, in an area known as “the touching”.
There the faithful can pass some of their belongings under the mantle or cape of the kings to ask for their blessing and to protect their money, their family or their health.
Jazmin Gaspar, who helps in this area, explains to Efe that most people seek to bless their wallets, their children, or some of their properties. But some of them have even led to bless things as unusual as shoes.
“Sometimes they give us their sneakers, and then they do not, they bring us the ashes of their dead to be blessed or they look for a miracle in the course of their illness or pregnancy,” adds the girl, whose Last name is very common in the village.
Believers also come to the altar to give thanks for some favor received or to ask for the health and well-being of their families.
Another part of the route is to go to the chapel attached to the church where there are blankets that simulate the layers of the Kings and in which people are wrapped for a moment as a sign of protection.
The figures of the Magi have prevailed for at least three centuries. In the 16th century they were carved by order of a Franciscan priest so that the fishermen of the Laguna de Cajititlán would venerate them and consecrate their work.
The Wise Kings disappeared for a time, then were found in a hidden place in the church and since then are venerated every year, says Efe José Carlos Muñoz, priest vicar of the sanctuary.
“Everyone comes with different reasons to the party, they come to ask God for the intercession of the holy kings to be blessed in their work, sick people come, and it is interesting to see how many people come with wheelchairs or with hardly any possibilities to walk, but with a lot of devotion “, emphasizes the cleric.
Felipe Cabrera is 80 years old and since his childhood he visits Cajititlán at this time. First he did it in the hands of his parents and, being an adult, he led his family to follow the tradition. Sometimes he has come to pay some money or thank miracles, others more to follow the tradition and also for the pleasure of being in the town.
“(We come) sometimes by family habit, sometimes by command and sometimes nothing more to come in. The more time passes, the more people come in. Previously there were a few of us, we surrounded ourselves with the castle (fireworks), but today there are so many people “he says.
What began as a custom to ask for a good year of fishing for those who live in the lagoon, over time became a popular party that also attracts tourists.
Sergio Saldaña and Mary Medina visit for the first time Cajititlan advised by some relatives. They affirm to Efe that they never imagined how close to Guadalajara there was a festival centered on the Wise Kings.
“They had told us about the festivities, about the customs, now we have come to know, to visit, the customs, the food and the dances have drawn our attention,” she says.
“It’s very nice to know these traditions, it’s funny that in a town the Three Wise Men are celebrated, few people know about it”, they say.
On January 7, the three figures are taken from the temple to carry out a procession through the streets of the town that culminates with a boat trip through the lagoon of Cajititlán, to give way to a popular festival in which it is common to see children dressed as the patrons of the town.