Buenos días, Paloma Blanca

Click on the photo to view the slideshow and fireworks movie

Thursday night, near the mercado Ignacio Ramirez, the final event of the celebration of the Virgen de Guadalupe was held. Vendors food booths and people filled the streets. The Virgin’s altar was in full bloom, the procession of women carrying a wood nicho on a litter of flowers, and singing Buenos días, Paloma Blanca, had just arrived, followed by a lineup of followers who are served tamales and atole. (Movie of the fireworks here)

Castillo fireworks, which in this case include the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe who will be burned up in flames at the end of the evening, are being assembled in the street, roped to the surrounding buildings. It is a raggedy but self assured group of men from Guanajuato climbing around these towers, tying rockets, whistlers and vueltas. Grupo La Tuna Provinciana de San Miguel de Allende, dressed in black velvet shakespearan costume continue on from the women carrying the litter with Buenos días, Paloma Blanca, one of the many songs written for the Virgin of Guadalupe. It is song you would probably recognize, widely sung by mariachis, norteno bands, school children and women carrying statues, whenever the Virgin is present.

As the evening wears on and the crowd has had it’s share of pozole, tamales, enchiladas, gorditas, hamburgers and fries, the rockets begin.  Roman candles are lit off in the middle of the street one after another from a triple iron stand, watched by it’s owner who counts the number of booms by bobbing his head and looking up in the sky after each one.  The rockets are followed by the lighting of the first side of the castillo, popping and crackling as the first fuse ignites.

The banda Risuena, dressed in shiny silver suits, decked out for the occasion, begin playing a cacophany of songs and drum rolls, accompanied by trumpets, trombone, clarinets, providing music for the display. After all these years, I still don’t quite get the banda music, which in local groups include the youngest of children to the old guys who have been practicing for years but sound like they can’t hold a tune. But over time, even I can hear the difference between the local neighborhood groups and the professionals. One thing for sure though, if there is a banda, there is a party, and they are there to help it along.

CLICK ON THE PHOTO to view the movie

The photos of castillo fireworks towers don’t really do justice to the feeling they create in the street while they are going off all over the place, sending flames and paper into the crowds.  Up until about three years ago, young boys, from ages five to about thirteen, were allowed to run under the falling sparks, wearing cardboard boxes over their heads and backs, a rite of passage that is no longer allowed here in San Miguel. Nevertheless, these are thrilling fireworks to watch in person, something impossible to compare to anything you’ve ever seen in the U.S. and certainly nothing you would ever be allowed to watch from 25 feet away.  (Movie of fireworks here)

Click on the photo to view the song

As for the subject of this post, Buenos días, Paloma Blanca, here is the Grupo La Tuna Provinciana singing the song, with the words to follow along below. Click on the photo to view the video.

Here’s the words, which kick in mid-song:
Buenos días, Paloma Blanca

Hoy te vengo a saludar.
Saludando tu belleza
En tu trono celestial.
Eres Madre del creador
Y a mi corazón encantas
Grácias te doy con amor
Buenos días, Paloma Blanca.

Niña linda, niña santa
Tu dulce nombre alabar.
Porque eres tan sacrosanta
Hoy te vengo a saludar.
Reluciente como el alba
Pura, sencilla y sin mancha
Qué gusto recibe mi alma!
Buenos días, Paloma Blanca.

Que linda está la mañana
El aroma de las flores.
Despiden suaves olores
Antes de romper el alba.
Mi pecho con voz ufana
Grácias te da, Madre mía
En este dichoso día
Antes de romper el alba.

Cielo azul yo te convido
En este dichoso día.
A que prestes tu hermosura
A las flores de María.
Madre mía de Guadalupe
Dáme ya tu bendición
Recibe éstas mañanitas
De un humilde corazón.