'Rezo del pescado': a ritual for the connection man-nature

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The 'Rezo del pescado' is a method of defense against the action of humans towards nature, creating a relationship between these two

'Rezo del pescado': a ritual for the connection man-nature

In the territories of the eastern plains of Colombia and Venezuela, some indigenous groups inhabit, which, despite having different traditions, share many of the ancestral rituals and beliefs. Two of these groups are the Sikuani and the Cuiba, belonging to the Guahibo linguistic family. These indigenous communities practice the ritual Rezo del Pescado, carried out at the beginning of the weaning of the babies, before reaching its first year and before the first female menstruation.

Leer en español: 'Rezo del pescado': un ritual para la conexión hombre-naturaleza

The general meaning of this ritual goes around the inauguration of a new stage of the individual, in biological terms and in relation to nature. This is why it takes place in these two important moments of human's life, where a man-environment imbalance can occur. On one hand, a new consumer of animal flesh emerges, and on the other, a woman has the ability to multiply the human species.

The ritual states that the consumption of unprayed fish triggers the damage of the underwater world. To avoid this, it becomes the method of defense against the action of the beings of nature that in certain circumstances want humans to take them with them.

The Sikuani Indians report that they have witnessed the death of some young women because they did not "pray the fish". Therefore, this community emphasizes the importance of this ritual and since the girl was born, the mother is responsible for raising her, teaching her labors in the village and the secrets so that later she can live with a man.

The ritual says that within the first three months after menstruation, the woman should have little or no contact with the outside, time in which she should be preparing her spirit. She should not go to the river to bathe because, according to the natives, the fish would take away her soul. Additionally, she must work tirelessly and keep a special diet.

After this period of time, the shaman organizes and presides over a ceremony in which a fish is prayed and all kinds of fish in the region are named so that no one can harm the woman.

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Like many rituals, El Rezo del Pescado shows the connection and knowledge that indigenous communities have with nature. It is evident how these communities express their concern for having an adequate, permanent and daily contact with the environment, and the vital need to take advantage of the resources it provides them.

This tradition highlights the existence of a disconnection between individuals and their environment. You can see how nature is only used as a means of production on a daily basis, it is contaminated and even eradicated. All of the above, without being aware of all the benefits that nature offers to human beings. In the same way, this situation also affects the individual, with illnesses, bad energies, poor living conditions, among others.

On the other hand, this type of rituals shows work hand by hand with the community, leaving individualism aside, becoming an individual event, such as a birth or the first menstruation of a woman, in something that involves the whole community. In contrast, these types of activities are practically non-existent in many Western cultures and communities. Every day, the human being is focused on their personal interests and benefits, without worrying about others. This has led to a lack of harmony between individuals and their like, and between individuals and nature.

Finally, it also shows that the rituals performed by indigenous communities, despite being different among them, are very important to build a good relationship with the people of the community and with nature. It is a way to depopulate individual thoughts and carry out actions that contribute to the construction of harmony.


LatinAmerican Post | Maria Alejandra Triviño

Translated from "'Rezo del pescado': un ritual para la conexión hombre-naturaleza"