Aztec death worship ritual
Tepito, Mexico City, Mexico – May 2011
A Mexican indigenous dancer performs an ancient Aztec Death Worship dance during a ceremony honoring Santa Muerte (Saint Death) in Tepito, a violent neighborhood of Mexico City, Mexico. The religious cult of Santa Muerte is a syncretic fusion of Aztec death worship rituals and Catholic beliefs. Born in lower-class neighborhoods of Mexico City, it has always been closely associated with crime. In the past decades, original Santa Muerte's followers (such as prostitutes, pickpockets and street drug traffickers) have merged with thousands of ordinary Mexican Catholics. The Saint Death veneration, offering a spiritual way out of hardship in the modern society, has rapidly expanded. Although the Catholic Church considers the Santa Muerte's followers as devil worshippers, on the first day of every month, crowds of believers in Saint Death fill the streets of Tepito. Holding skeletal figurines of Holy Death clothed in a long robe, they pray for power healing, protection and favors and make petitions to ‘La Santísima Muerte’, who reputedly can make life-saving miracles.