One Village, One Pueblo, One Fiesta


One Village, One Pueblo, One Fiesta.

That is the emphasis for the Dec. 10-12 celebration in the Village of Tortugas, the annual Fiesta in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The residents of the Village of Guadalupe and Village of San Juan (commonly known as the Village of Tortugas) and the members of Tortugas Pueblo are preparing the buildings and making the traditional biscochos for Fiesta.

For more than a century, the December celebration has been held in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of the village, and the namesake of the church at 3600 Paroquia St.

Many of  the events take place in the areas around the church and eastward.

This year will mark the 113th year the Pueblo moved the celebration to the Village of Tortugas, and continues the proud traditions and customs left by the ancestors. The religious fiesta celebrates the apparitions of Our Lady to the Indian San Juan Diego.

The Fiesta is sponsored by La Corporacion de Los Indigenes de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, and incorporates the customs and traditions of the Piro and Tigua people.

The Pueblo encourages and welcomes the participation of the general public and seeks their assistance by respecting the time-honored traditions. The Fiesta is always held Dec. 10-12, and by keeping the same schedule year to year, the Pueblo keeps traditions of the forefathers.

The celebration begins on the Pueblo grounds at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, with a candlelight procession from La Capilla to the Casa del Pueblo.

Upon arriving at the Casa del Pueblo, an all-night vigil, or Velorio, will be held. The Danzantes and the Malinches will perform traditional dances throughout the night. At 5 a.m. the morning of Monday, Dec. 11, a candlelight procession will begin, and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be taken from La Casa del Pueblo to the Sanctuario de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe.

The 11th is also the traditional date for the annual pilgrimage to Tortugas Mountain, probably the most known portion of the Fiesta.

The Pueblo leads the pilgrimage and is under the guidance and direction of the Capitanes or Captains. Registration for the Pilgrimage begins at 6 a.m. at La Casa del Pueblo. The general public is requested to gather at La Casa del Pueblo and join the procession to the top of the mountain. There will also be confessions before the 11 a.m. Mass at the church.

The pilgrims traditionally stay on the mountain and construct quiotes, or walking sticks, during the day. At 4 p.m., a rosary is recited on the mountain before the pilgrims descend. The journey is completed with a ceremony in front of La Casa del Pueblo around 8 p.m. Hundreds of pilgrims climb Tortugas Mountain.

Out of respect for all participants, La Corporacion discourages pets on your journey. If you do decide to bring a pet, La Corporacion asks that you maintain control of your pet at all times. La Corporacion also asks that all pilgrims clean up after themselves. Please take home what you bring.

Tortugas Mountain is considered sacred by the Pueblo.

On Tuesday, Dec. 12, the Fiesta continues with the 9 a.m. Fiesta Mass celebrated at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

After the Mass the four dance groups will perform traditional Indian and Danzante dances throughout the Village. The Dance groups consist of the Tortugas Pueblo dancers, the Danzantes and two Matachine groups: La Danza Azteca Chichimeca and La Danza Guadalupana Azteca. They will be perform in front of the church throughout the day.

The 12th also brings the traditional noon meal at La Casa de Comida. The meal consists of albondigas, beans, macaroni, and red chile. The meal is open to the public at no charge.

The 12th continues with a procession around the Village at 4 p.m. and a rosary at 5 p.m.

A reception in honor of the new Mayordomos is the final event of the day. The Mayordomos for this year's Fiesta are Mr. Bill Martinez Acosta and Ms. Hilda Magellanes Holguin, along with Mr. Bobby Vielma and Ms. Terry Vielma. Incoming Mayordomos are Mr. Brinton Mowles and Ms. Irene Gonzales, along with Mr. Michael Molinar and Ms. Jeannette Castillo.

While the Fiesta is full of color and pageantry, it can only retain its very solemn and prayerful atmosphere with the help of the public. Out of respect for the solemnity of the event, La Corporacion asks the public limit their photography. If you feel you must take a photo, La Corporacion asks that you not interfere with the dancing or activities. Photography is prohibited, without the express written consent of La Corporacion, in La Casa del Pueblo and La Capilla.

For many years, visitors from all over the country come to participate in the festivities. There are pilgrims from as far as Canada and Europe whom annually participate in this event. Most come to give thanks and to pray for special intentions.

It is the desire of La Corporacion that everyone will participate and experience what the ancestors experienced. The Fiesta’s customs and traditions are to be respected. Most of the events are open to the public and the public is asked to cooperate during all of the events.

The village of Tortugas is located just south of Mesilla Park. For more information, please contact the Parish office at 575-526-8171 or Bill Acosta at 575-805-6055, Dominic Fierro at 575-496-3424 or David Fierro at 575-496-1693.