From birth to death – Kaqchikel transition prayers
Andreas Koechert | ISBN: 978–3–901519–46–8

© 2016 Academic Publishers, 192 pages, soft cover
Price: € 19,00, postage additional.
Order to: Hermann Hendrich

In Guatemala Maya religious customs and cultural behaviors have been preserved since European contact through a series of fortuitous circumstances. In an effort to ensconce Catholic doctrine throughout the region, the Catholic Church transferred the mission function to Catholic laypeople grouped into organizations called cofradías (Catholic brotherhoods or confraternities). Promoting piety among the brotherhoods are one mayor objective, another is to take care of the local patron saint and any associated religious objects.
The monograph shows three core Kaqchikel rites of passage: birth–baptism, marriage, and death. Guidance from a cofrade is vital to the success of all three rites since each mark a transition in the cyclic existence of Costumbristas. In this, birth–baptism marks the transition of a person from the afterlife into life, marriage the consummation of that person into the 'completeness' of a duality with another person, and death the return to the afterlife. The rituals and accompanying prayers are implemented in set ways and sequences so as not to disrupt the balance between the mundane and divine worlds. Likewise, the cofradía prayers are treated quite rigidly in the text to preserve the three principals' idiomatic expressions in Kaqchikel and Spanish. The central role language plays in Kaqchikel cofradía religious tradition is addressed with the understanding that its meanings are defined by the proper cultural use given it by the informants. Their 'inner view' is used to preserve an interpretation as near as possible to their own within the limits of intercultural communication.