The rite is a traditional symbolic action that serves to introduce man to the scope of the sacred, K’aam Nikte’. Marriage in Maya spirituality is considered a rite of passage which produces a change from the secular to the sacred. It has survived the bloody Spanish conquest, and is accessible today thanks to the Kuch kaab Yéetel J-men Maaya’ob, or Council of Maya Elders and Priests.

In the sacred space where the K’aam Nikte’ ritual takes place, there is a concentration of sacred energies, where in man’s hands is a central point from which it is possible to influence the entire cosmos. It is a place to convene the gods using the rites which assure their presence.

At the center of the sacred space, outlined by a rope in the shape of a square representing the cosmos, is placed the Ya’axche’ tree of life, consisting of three spaces defined by three parts of the same tree. The roots represent the region where the nine Yuumtsilo’ob of darkness, death, illness, and disgrace are located. Another space is where life on land takes place: where animals, plants, mountains, cenotes, and mankind are found. The third space is the branches of the ya’axche’ with 13 layers which correspond to the heavens, up to the highest one which is where the creator Junab K’uj is found.

Seen from above, it forms a cross, Maya symbol of cosmic quadruplicity, represented by The Four Bakabes, lords of the winds, in charge of the four cardinal points. The cardinal points begin with the East where the sun (Lak’in) rises and is represented by the color red of the light. Next is the north (Xaman), region of cold winds and the polar star, represented by the color white. Then is the west (Chik’in) where the sun sets in order to hide and run through the underworld in the form of a jaguar, to rise again in the form of a plumed serpent (K’u’uk’umkaan), and its color is black. Last is the south (Nojol), a big hole which carries dark and silent space, and its color is yellow representing death.

The shells of the sea snails are used as trumpets to call to the gods, to consecrate the site where the presence of Hunab K’uj, the Bakabes, the 13 heavenly gods, and the nine from the underworld are invoked, called to the ritual to be witnesses of the ceremony.

Editorial by Anabell Castañeda

 

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