6 junio, 2024

13 traditions and customs of the Tarahumara

Some traditions and customs of the tarahumara The most outstanding are the arajipari, rowena, awilachi, owiruame, nutea or yumari. The Tarahumara are a native people of Mexico. They are also known as rarámuris, which means «the one with light feet», or «runners on foot».

They are settled in the Sierra Madre Occidental, which crosses the state of Chihuahua. 97% of its population lives in Chihuahua.

The Tarahumara were a sedentary people who grew squash, chili peppers, and cotton. Its economy was based on agriculture, hunting and gathering. Regarding the political organization, each group of Tarahumara had its own leader who guaranteed the proper functioning of the town and protection against neighboring towns.

They were a warlike bunch and were always in conflict with neighboring tribes. your religion They were polytheistic, which means they believed in several gods. Among them they considered the Sun, the Moon, the healer and the stones as benevolent, and among the malevolent the lords of the underworld. They also believed that there was life after death.

Starting in 1606, the Jesuit missionaries began their process of evangelization of the indigenous tribes, and these towns gradually lost many of their customs.

Today, many of their traditions survive in complex religious ceremonies, where the syncretism between Christianity and their own beliefs can be seen, in a coexistence of centuries.

Main customs and traditions of the Tarahumara

1. Respect towards the members of the tribe

The Tarahumara are a people of deep-rooted customs. The aspects that stand out the most are that they believe that people are worth more than things and sharing is the basis of their society.

They think that disrespect is one of the worst offenses and that it can cause illness.

Illnesses caused by disrespect will not be removed until the error has been amended.

2. Rarajipari

It is a very common game among the Tarahumaras, the most important collective act they carry out. It is a ball game that consists of throwing a ball with your foot and running barefoot after it.

Sometimes they place bets with the opposing team, setting a goal that can be up to 200 km away.

This game represents the reason for its existence, which is running. And this is where the name of rarámuris comes from, which means “light feet” or “runners on foot”.


It is a game similar to rarajipari, but this is performed only by women playing with small interlocking rings.


This traditional festival takes place during Holy Week. The streets are filled with music and dances for three days.

On the last day, dancers are chosen to decorate their bodies, first completely in white, while they dance around a cross and greet the four cardinal points.

Afterwards, their bodies are decorated with ocher and black in an intimate ceremony. Once the decoration is finished, these dancers continue dancing until the next day.

These dances are done to ask for the rains and so that the planting can begin. To close the celebration, the patio parties come to an end. In this last ritual, the healing of sick people is requested.

5. Owiruame

Owiruame is also the name by which doctors are known. When an owiruame dies, a special ceremony is held.

In this ceremony, another owiruame burns the hair of the deceased and they perform two celebrations, known as nawezari.

In the first, the deceased person is remembered and the actions he did, in the second, celebrations are held that have to do with the spiritual plane of the deceased.

6. Sipaame ceremony

The sipáame is another type of doctor that is distinguished from the previous one by having entered the peyote circle.

Having entered the circle, her soul is tied to the earth, so another sipáame has to free her by feeding the family of the deceased a cactus, so that she can go up to heaven.

7. Nutea

It is another of the ceremonies that is done for the death of someone in the community. The celebrations differ, with 3 holidays for men and 4 for women.

The celebration takes place in the house of the deceased and the whole town participates. Songs and dances are made, and food and drink are offered to the spirits so that the souls of the deceased can reach heaven.

8. Yumari

In this celebration the miracle of life is celebrated. The spirits that allow life on the earthly plane are thanked and animal sacrifices are offered to them.

These animals are then cooked in large pots to feed the people. Dances and songs are also performed to celebrate the festival of life.

9. Tutuguri dance

This dance is done by the Tarahumara to bring hope and thank for blessings, as well as to ward off curses, avoid illnesses and suffering.

In times of harvest, the tutuguri dance is danced throughout the night, and at dawn the offerings are eaten the previous day made to the spirits.

10. Mitote

Another of the traditional celebrations of the Tarahumaras is the mitote, which is celebrated three times a year. The first takes place in February, and health is requested for all members of the town.

The second is done in May, so that the necessary rains for the crops arrive. And the last one is celebrated in October, where the first crops of corn and corn appear, and good harvests are appreciated. These celebrations last 5 days, and are full of music and songs.

11. The tesguinadas

They are important meetings among the people, kinds of assemblies, which are held in agricultural or religious ceremonies or for economic reasons. They are also done to organize the construction of a house for someone in the community. They distribute the traditional drink, tesgüino, based on corn.

12. The Onorúame ceremony

It is a celebration that takes place during Holy Week. They thank the spirits (alewá) for the life allowed, knowing that Onorúame, a god who is also called Tata Dios in Spanish, is the author of the breath of life. It is a syncretic tradition between their beliefs and Christianity.

13. Burials

When a Tarahumara dies, the body of the deceased is prepared and dressed in his best clothes. Next, you are taken to the place where you will be deposited (which can be 2 hours away), you are left with a blanket and huaraches (sandals) to help you on your way. They have parties and sing.


BENNETT, W., ZINGG, R. (1978). The Tarahumara: An Indian tribe from northern Mexico. National Indigenous Institute.
ARTAUD, A. (1984). Mexico-Voyage to the Land of the Tarahumaras (Mexico and Voyage to the Land of the Tarahumaras). Fund of Economic Culture.

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