Virgin of Guadalupe Celebration

The fortunate members of the Harvard community who got to hear the musicians "Dr. Loco y Los Dos Montoya" during their visit to campus December 10-12, 2003, no doubt came to believe it was their scorching melodies and rhythms, not the warmer temperatures, that started melting the snow.

Brought from California by Professor Davíd Carrasco for three days of events celebrating "Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Latin American Religious Experience," Chicano musicians Jose Cuellar (a.k.a. Dr. Loco), Thomas Montoya, and Noe Montoya shared songs from Mexico and the Mexican diaspora with several receptive Harvard audiences. Among the stops on their vigorous performance schedule were two of Carrasco's classes, a screening of the re-released film "Alambrista" (which Cuellar and Carrasco co-produced, and for which Cuellar composed an updated soundtrack), a party for the entire Harvard Divinity School community, Morning Prayers at the Memorial Church, a Christmas celebration for Harvard workers, and a special luncheon at the Center for the Study of World Religions where Cuellar proceeded to put down his instruments and reveal his other talent as an academic, doing a lecture and slide presentation on "La Virgen de Guadalupe as U.S.-Mexican Borderlands Icon."

The events culminated in a joyful celebration held at the master's residence of Lowell House on Friday, December 12, the actual feast day for La Virgen de Guadalupe, which drew some 200 participants. The evening included a Mexican Christmas tradition called a posada, which reenacts Mary and Joseph's search for lodging. A traveling group processes from door to door singing a song asking for housing (Professor Carrasco stressed that this was the plight of homeless people and refugees). After being turned down several times (also in song), the holy couple and their entourage are finally welcomed inside. In this case, the group traveled from Lowell to Adams House and back again, and was let in to a pachanga (party) featuring Dr. Loco y Los Dos Montoya and a mariachi band. The elbow-room-only crowd took a crack at two piñatas, ate hot tamales, and danced into the evening.

The sponsorship of the events and the participation in them truly spanned the University like few events do (among the sponsors were the Harvard Divinity School Office for Ministerial Studies and Office for Student Life, Comunidad Latina at the Graduate School of Education, the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, and three FAS houses—Adams, Lowell, and Winthrop; students came from nearly every graduate school and department).

Students who attended the various events were exuberant. Among the comments overheard were, "This is exactly what Harvard needs"; "This reminds me of home" (from a San Antonio native); and whispered by an unnamed Harvard Divinity School professor, "This music makes me want to drink tequila!"