Indigenous celebrations in May

We are keeping it real in the month of May. Real Nicaragua. Real indigenous. Really you shouldn’t miss any of these.

The Ulwas celebrate their culture on the 6th in the megatropolis of Karawala. They are one of the few indigenous groups left in Nicaragua that still speak their native tongue, though it is limited to this and a neighboring village. Make your way through the jungle waterways of the Caribbean coast and be rewarded with indigenous music and dancing, food and fun. It might seem a bit…awkward, but keep in mind that the idea of celebrating through annual festivals was imported by Europeans. Try on a banana leaf skirt while you are there.

The “Dance of the Demons” happens during the festival of celebrating San Pascual Bailon in Chinandega on the 17. Really it is called the dance of the Mantudos, but its more ominous name was penned by an American diplomat after watching the celebration in the mid-1800s.

This is another hybrid indigenous/Catholic celebration but the only one where you will see the locals playing the juco, a drum that predates the arrival of the Spanish. This instrument was widely played throughout Central America and now is all but forgotten, even in Nicaragua, except for a few locals who pull them out during this festival. Demons. Another reason to skip visit Chinandega.

palo de mayo

Last but certainly not least is one of my favorite festivals of the year, the Tulululu in Bluefields. It happens on the night of the 31st of May and is the grand finale of the month-long Maypole celebration on the Caribbean coast. The tulululu is a massive march of people from one side of the city to the other, dancing, shaking the maypole tree, shooting off rockets and playing the band music until they reach the big party on the other side. If you go to experience the Tulululu you have to learn to pass under and you better learn to like the song because you are going to hear it a LOT. This is the real Caribbean and the real Nicaragua.

These are a few of the May celebrations in my book, the NCX Guide to Festivals and Events in Nicaragua, a travel guide that lists over 200+ fiestas throughout the year. My other book is a collection of stories from living on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. You can pick them up on Amazon, Lucha Libro in Granada and Buho Books in Leon.

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