Cha’a Chaak Ritual: A Maya ceremony you did not know about
by admin | 25 October, 2018
The ancient Maya culture is known for its impressive architectural works and for the grandeur of its view of the world. But few people have detailed knowledge about the numerous rituals in its culture. Have you heard about the Cha’a Chaak? We’ll tell you more about it.
The word Chaak in Maya means “rain”, and that is why they call the God of rain “Dios Chaak”. Also, the word “Cha’a” means “fall”, so the closest translation we have of this expression would be “rainfall”.
The Cha’a Chaak is a ceremony the Mayas have been performing since immemorial times, in which they ask the gods for the necessary amount of rain for their land to remain fertile.
During preparations for Cha’a Chaak, an altar is set to represent the center of the world. This might sound like a reference to “Hanal Pixán” a ritual performed by the Mayas in October and November; it’s clear that the altar never loses its symbolism of being the element that connects the Earth to the spiritual realm.
Food offerings to the gods are placed on the altar. These food always include different animals carefully prepared for the deities. Prayers are also held to call on the rain lords (yuum chako’ob), the Good lords (yumtzilo’ob ku ‘), and even the Christian God. The latter is definitely due to the syncretism of Maya culture with Catholicism after 300 years of colonialism.
Similar to Hanal Pixán, an altar is set with the 4 directions of the world duly considered as well as the 13 Maya heavens which are at the center of this sacred moment that has connected shamans to their tradition dating back thousands of years.
Traditional beverages served during the Cha’a Chaak
The Mayas were in the habit of preparing special drinks for their rituals. Some of them are known as “sacred drinks” for the important roles they play in the rites. During the Cha’a Chaak ceremony, a drink called saká, which is made with a half-cooked nixtamal base, is always prepared. This corn drink is a very common offering for the Chaak God, balché, which is simply fermented honey, to which tree bark is added, is always prepared as well, this drink is also essential for the rituals.
The balché is associated with good harvests, cure of diseases and being grateful to the gods, so it is very common to drink it during certain ceremonies.
This ritual, as well as the Hanal Pixán, are experiences that make the Maya community distinguished by the complexity of its view of the world. Preserving these millenary traditions is not easy, but we must do our best to give them the respect and recognition they deserve.
If you are interested in the unique experience of a Maya ceremony, remember to book your place for the Hanal Pixán celebration supported by ALLTOURNATIVE. Learn more about this here.