Bloody Hot Springs and Cock Fights

Bloody Hot Springs and Cock Fights

The second Friday of Lent is the time to take a day trip to Araró for celebrations for an image of Jesus on the Cross.  You’ll enjoy a wide array of birds and plants for sale not available here and a dip in one of their infamous hot springs.

But it is best to know a bit more of the town’s history to more fully enjoy the present.

Araró was originally home to the Otomis, the same tribe of farmers that settled in our area of San Miguel.  Otomis captured prisoners of war and had human sacrifices.  The recently beating heart would be tossed into a hot spring turning the water red, an offering to the indigenous gods to bring the rains and fertility.

Fair warning – if you are used to our hot springs the ones around Araró are much warmer and contain more foul smelling sulfur.  You can’t spend much time in one but they are infamous for helping those with arthritis.

The conquistadors and Franciscans arrive in 1526 calling the area Araró meaning “where indigenous place holes in their ears”.  An indigenous god featured small silver bowls in his ears starting a fashion trend.  Suffice to say his days of being a god were numbered once the Franciscans arrived.

Araró, like many areas of Michoacán, became known for its religious art made from sugar cane and orchid bulbs.  Durable and light-weight the images were perfect for carrying into battles.

One such image created over 400 years ago was Christ on the cross (called Lord of Araró) made in the late 1500s by Matias de la Cerda from nearby Patzcuaro.

In 1761 a church was built around the image.  The church was destroyed in an 1843 earthquake that caused Araró to be abandoned.  The image survived and was placed in a neighboring town until his return in the 1920s.  During his trip home while crossing a bridge a bomb was tossed into the procession.  Again, Lord of Araró survived virtually unscathed.

The image inspired grand parties the second Friday of Lent featuring music, dancing, card games, cock fights and an abandonment of public morals.  The fiestas were so fierce the clergy moved the Lord of Araró to spend Lent in a neighboring town.

Badgered by the public to bring the Lord of Araró home he came back under the condition that there be no more drinking during his festival nor card games and cock fights.  Instead folks started the tradition of taking ribbons the length of Jesus to be blessed in his hands.  These ribbons are then called “Measurements of God”

For sale on decorated streets during the celebrations is rock salt from the local lake, lemons, plus chairs and carpets made from woven straw.  On Wednesday the Lord of Araró leaves his church in a custom made glass coffin to travel around town until ending up at the cemetery.  From the cemetery he returns at midnight to his home church to start the Friday celebrations.

If you have any problems driving to Araró say a prayer to the Lord of Araró  because today is the patron of chauffeurs.