October 28 is the day of San Judas Tadeo, a folk saint revered by the local Mayan community throughout towns in Western Guatemala.
In present day, the effigy of Judas is held in different residences each year and surrounded by lit candles. Throughout the year, devotees visit his shrine at the respective location. Two people watch over the shrine, making sure it stays in good condition and passing over the offerings to him from visitors.
At the home of a respected Mayan priest, people from all over the community travel to pay their respects and wish for good crops, health and love. Throughout the celebration, dancing to a marimba band and alcoholic beverages are enjoyed in a festive atmosphere. While the overall tone of the event is celebratory in nature, there are still those who look to Judas with solemnity and respect during prayers and blessing from the priest.
Throughout the celebration, much of the attention is placed on the Mayan Priest who presides over the festivities – though visitors also come year-round for blessings. The priest offers a blessing to guests and lights candles as a way to offer blessing and guidance for those who stop by in the community celebration. One unique aspect of the celebration is the fact that the priest smokes a large tobacco pipe – it is believed that rubbing tobacco is a way to predict health.