Velas of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec

These unique fiestas are celebrated by various towns in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. They are very colorful as women wear their famous dresses made from velvet, embroidered with beautiful rose and other flower designs. Famous women have worn those beautiful blouses such as Frida Kahlo and Evita Peron as they also represent the rich cultural heritage of a unique matriarchal society of Latin America.

The fiestas are called "Velas" which means "candles" and are done in honor of their Patron Saint and Virgin of most devotion or someone important to their village. There will normally be an initial parade with oxcart floats and brass bands with each person holding a candle, and begins or ends at the church or cemetery. During the parade there will also be fruits, sweets and toys thrown to the crowds to announce the fiesta to the entire town. There will also be a grand ball where all the ladies dress up in their best outfits and adorn themselves in gold ornaments that are, at times, inherited from generation to generation in their families.

These "Velas" take place at different times of the year depending on the town. So, for example, in the town of Tehuantepec the main Vela is held on December 26 and another one called Vela Zandunga the last weekend of May. In the nearby town of Salina Cruz, the Vela Paulo takes place the weekend of Easter. Every fiesta is about seven days long during which other cultural events will take place.