Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 13.COM 10.b.26

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Mexico has nominated La Romería (the pilgrimage): ritual cycle of ‘La llevada’ (the carrying) of the Virgin of Zapopan (No. 01400) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The annual celebration of La Romería on 12 October, honouring the image of the Virgin of Zapopan, is a tradition that dates back to 1734. The day marks the final phase of the annual ritual cycle popularly known as ‘The Carrying of the Virgin’, which begins in May and encompasses many community and liturgical activities. The cycle ends with the return journey to the Basilica, in Zapopan. More than two million people take part, and one of the main features of the festivity is the huge presence and participation of different native dancer groups. The carrying (“La Llevada”) and the activities derived from the ritual cycle encompass a mass public demonstration in which the streets and public spaces become a ritual festival for the community, featuring different artistic expressions of collective collaboration. Throughout the year, the planning of the activities depends on the interaction of different communities, helping them to renew and reinforce their social ties. Thanks to the community’s support for the practice year after year, La Romería is considered as one of the most popular and strongly rooted traditions in west Mexico. Through organized civil and ecclesiastical groups, the community of bearers and practitioners has ensured the survival of this cultural manifestation.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   La Romería is a ceremonial practice that merges official Catholic rituals with popular religious expressions and a large cycle of festive events involving native dance groups of different origins and backgrounds. It is transmitted in several traditional ways, depending on the roles of the participants. La Romería involves many communities, for whom it is a symbol of devotion, continuity and cultural identity. The spirit of the element encompasses solidarity, dialogue and respect for diversity.

R.2:   The element connects Zapopan and Guadalajara cities, establishes a relationship between them, their communities, and migrants from Zapopan abroad, and serves as a good example of mutual respect, cooperation and shared cultural values. Because of the wide range of communities and cultural expressions involved, the element promotes cultural diversity and human creativity and respect for them. The file demonstrates that the inscription of La Romería could help spread a better understanding of intangible cultural heritage in Mexico and beyond its borders, especially in relation to its role as a major factor of social cohesion.

R.3:   The social validity of the ritual tradition, its deep-rootedness and the number of organizations involved ensure its viability. La Romería was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by the Municipality of Zapopan, which was an important step in its safeguarding and for maintaining its ceremonial and communal foundations. Several threats were identified, to which the proposed safeguarding measures offer a suitable response. A special committee was established to implement and monitor the safeguarding activities, consisting of representatives of all the groups involved, including the government and practitioners.

R.4:   The communities concerned actively participated in the preparation of the nomination file, including through academic research as respondents. They also participated in workshops during which the safeguarding measures were discussed, providing important information and showing their consent for this initiative and their commitment to continuing to safeguard and transmit the practice. The representatives of different groups and communities of practitioners gave their written consent for the nomination.

R.5:   La Romería has been included in The National Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mexico since 2008 under the name of ‘Three Marian Sanctuaries of Jalisco and Their Pilgrimages’. The inventory is at a transitional stage now; a new updating mechanism is being developed by the governmental authorities. The element was identified and inventoried in partnership with the communities concerned.

  1. Inscribes La Romería (the pilgrimage): ritual cycle of ‘La llevada’ (the carrying) of the Virgin of Zapopan on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the State Party for submitting a large number of expressions of consent but reminds it that consent letters should not take the form of standardized declarations and should rather reflect the diversity of the practitioners and other stakeholders concerned in the form of personalized expressions of consent;
  3. Further reminds the State Party that updating is an important part of the inventorying process and invites it to include detailed information in its next periodic report on the implementation of the Convention at the national level on how the National Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mexico is regularly updated with the active participation of the communities, groups and non-governmental organizations concerned, in accordance with Articles 11 and 12 of the Convention.