After walking up the El Salto hill outside the village of Arroyo Seco, dozens of people of different religions and cultures stood next to the river and the community …
After walking up the El Salto hill outside the village of Arroyo Seco, dozens of people of different religions and cultures stood next to the river and the community acequias last Friday (May 17).
They were there to "bless the waters," a spring tradition in Northern New Mexico that goes back centuries.
At the front of the line was a retablo of San Ysidro, the patron saint of farming, land and -- at least in the Catholic culture of Northern New Mexico -- acequias.
The people were there to give thanks for the snow that fell in the winter -- snow that means fields will be watered and livestock will be fed this summer.
Some people dropped flower petals into the acequia, while others poured out jars of water from the rivers or acequias near their homes. Grupo Izcalli en Nanantzi, a local group of Aztec dancers, offered a dance to do their part to bless the waters.
"The simple way of looking at it is he was a farmer," said local historian David Fernandez. But San Ysidro, who was born in Madrid, Spain, in the 11th century, was more than that, Fernandez said. He would take time out of his day "to pray and meditate ... to raise the world up in that way."
Everyone was given a small card printed with an image of San Yisidro created by artist Eddyberto Cardenas, who runs the print shop for La Plazita Institute in Albuquerque's South Valley.
"I was from L.A. so I wasn't too familiar with all this," he said. "I didn't even know what an acequia was."
When he started researching the saint for a new piece of art, he realized most of the images were "real old and real traditional."
"As far as my art, I'm all about the youth. I want to make it so the youth can really see it, so they get intrigued and we tell them about the traditions," said Cardenas.
"Our whole philosophy is culture heals," Cardenas said.
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